New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday directed the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) to release the salaries of doctors working in six hospitals — Kasturba Hospital, Hindu Rao Hospital, Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital, Girdhari Lal Maternity Hospital, Rajan Babu Institute of Pulmonary Medicine & Tuberculosis and Balak Ram Hospital — for the months of March and April.
The high court had taken suo motu cognisance of news reports related to non-payment of salaries to doctors of Hindu Rao and Kasturba Hospital Thursday.
Advocate Akhil Mittal, standing counsel for the NDMC, told ThePrint that they will be releasing salaries for the month of March from their exchequer by 19 June.
“The salary for April will be given by 24 June to all SR (senior resident), JR (junior resident) and PG (post-graduate) doctors. The high court has directed the Delhi government to pay us Rs 10 crore by 19 June, then we will pay the stipend for the month of April 2020 by 24 June,” Mittal told ThePrint.
The corporation receives 40 per cent of its funds from the Delhi government, added Mittal. ThePrint reached out to Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain through phone calls and text messages, but didn’t receive a response until the time of publishing this report.
About 546 resident doctors will receive salaries, which will amount to approximately Rs 8 crore per month.
The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for 8 July.
“On 8 July, the court will decide on the payment of salaries to permanent doctors. The court has directed us only to release the salaries of resident doctors on priority,” said advocate Mittal.
Speaking to ThePrint, NDMC authorities said they have been facing a lack of funds due to the lockdown.
North Delhi mayor and BJP leader Avtar Singh said, “We had a problem managing funds due to lack of revenue generation. The NDMC did not get most of the taxes it otherwise used to get due to the lockdown.”
Doctors threaten mass resignation
A total of 800 doctors, including both resident and permanent doctors, working in the six government hospitals didn’t receive salaries for the past three months — March, April and May.
On Thursday, as many as 300 doctors of Hindu Rao Hospital, including permanent, residential and consultant doctors, wrote a letter to the Medical Superintendent with an ultimatum that if pending salaries were not cleared by 18 June, they will tender a mass resignation.
“All of us have been working round the clock amid this pandemic. We have loans to pay, rent, food and travel to arrange. This way we will land up on the streets. There are doctors who have just Rs 800-Rs 900 left in their accounts … after studying so much, we can’t ask our families now for money,” Dr Rohit Tiwari, one of the residential doctors at Hindu Rao, told ThePrint.
“Thali, lighting, pink flowers won’t feed our stomachs … these things don’t count. If you respect our work, release our salaries,” he added.
“… with every passing day it’s getting very hard and tedious to get through the daily expenses of a lot of doctors. It’s cumbersome to commute to work and earn livelihood. We feel our voices are unheard. We request you to release our pending salaries (not just one month) by June 18 … we are helpless to inform you that we are choosing ‘no pay, no work’ rule in order to mark agitation, and if issues persist, we might have to take uncalled decision in the form of mass resignations,” the healthcare workers said in their letter.
Similarly, as many as 100 resident doctors of Kasturba Hospital had also written a letter to their hospital authorities Tuesday, threatening mass resignation if their salaries, which have been unpaid since March, were not cleared by 16 June.
The president of the Residential Doctors Association (RDA) at the Rajendra Babu TB Hospital, Dr. Mahendra C.S., said, “We have not got our salary for the past three months. Not only the doctors, but the other healthcare workers of NDMC are going through the same problem. RDAs of two hospitals have written letters to the NDMC, we haven’t written a letter yet but we are with them in this.”