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Govt's indecision in doctors' strike cripples Maharashtra

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, Mar 4 (UNI) The doctors' strike continued in Maharashtra, even two days after the government invoked Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) and served termination notices to more than 500 of the striking resident doctors, crippling health services in the state.

Nearly 86 per cent of the 3,576 doctors are on strike after two doctors were allegedly manhandled by relatives of patients in a city hospital on February 27.

While admitting that 3,073 resident doctors are on strike as of today, Minister of State for Medical Education Suresh Shetty threatened them with '' disqualification and arrest''. Meanwhile, the government is also open for dialogue to resolve their demands, saying ''we are being soft on them ...they being students''.

The agitation, which began as a security issue has since snowballed into multiple demands, the main being upward revision of stipend.

Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) has demanded parity with their counterparts in Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

After the meeting with MARD leaders on February 28, the government said it will take a decision on the demands '' within three months'', adding that it will take a ''positive decision on the matter of stipend, after consulting with the authorities concerned and placing it before the Cabinet, in the next two months.'' MARD secretary Ajay Ovhal said they could call off the strike if the government signed an agreement to this effect with their Association.

'' The government has been dilly dallying these past five days...

let it send the offer in the form an agreement... then we can consider withdrawing the strike,'' he said.

While the Minister today said termination notices have been served on 460 striking doctors, field reports put the number at 570. As many as 310 doctors have been served the notices in Pune, 150 in Mumbai, 100 in Aurangabad and 10 in Nanded.

The government has requistioned the services of 267 doctors from public health centres, Ashwini Hospital of Indian Navy (120) and 22 of Employees Security Insurance Scheme (ESIS) to run out-patient departments (OPDs) and private doctors, too, will be inducted to run critical services, Mr Shetty said.

UNI JM-DWN-MPJ SA MA PC1917

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