COVID-19 in Mumbai: Doctors in pain sans pay
BL Soni

Doctors at NESCO jumbo centre are a worried lot –not because of the workload due to the pandemic, but for not receiving their salaries since June. Similar allegations were made by 15 doctors from Kerala, who had left Mumbai since the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had failed to disburse their salaries on time.

The doctors include 137 contractual private practitioners such as specialists, dentists and ayurvedic physicians from all across the country. They alleged that the civic body is terminating the contract of doctors who are raising their voice against them.

To treat COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms, BMC has hired hundreds of private practitioners. These include Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) doctors who are paid Rs 60,000, Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) doctors who are paid Rs 80,000 and specialised doctors who are paid over Rs 1 lakh as a monthly salary.

A doctor working at NESCO Jumbo Centre said that they were appointed at these centres when there was a need for doctors. They were promised a Rs 1 lakh salary every month. However, it’s been six months and they have still not received their salary. “We work for 6 to 8 hours every day and the corporation is not disbursing our salary. I had complained about it. However, no action has been taken. The corporation owes me over Rs 6 lakh. I haven’t received my salary since June,” the doctor said.

However, the civic body refuted these allegations and called them baseless. Dr Neelam Andhrade, in charge, NESCO COVID-19 centre, said that they have cleared all the payments of the doctors deployed at the centre. “We have given more than Rs 3 crore as salaries from the civic body’s budget. Till September, all the payments have been cleared,” she said.

In July, a group of doctors, who had come from Kerala, had to return after BMC allegedly did not disburse their salaries. The jumbo COVID-19 centre was started in April with a 1,000-bed capacity. It has over 200 intensive care units (ICU) beds. Mild symptomatic patients are provided treatment at the centre.

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