Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s claim that it has taken sufficient steps to ensure wellbeing of all the frontline health workers is refuted by an advocate stating that the corporation has schemes only for its employees.
The BMC had filed an affidavit before the Bombay high court which is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Siddharth Chandrashekhar seeking extension of health care benefits to all the frontline health workers who are engaged in Covid-19 duty.
The BMC affidavit stated that in March 2020, the Union government had announced an insurance scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package and extended benefits of this to health care workers who have died due to Covid-19 and those who are in direct contact and care of Covid-19 patients.
The Maharashtra government had issued a resolution in May 2020 wherein all staff members of different departments performing Covid-19 related duties would be provided with comprehensive personal accident cover of Rs 50 lakh. However, till such scheme is provided, Rs 50 lakh would be provided as an interim measure in case of death of an employee on account of Covid-19.
Besides, additional financial incentives will be provided to health care workers, resident doctors as well as the post-graduate students performing Covid-19 duties. In addition, guidelines are issued and helpline number has been set up to take care of mental health issues faced by healthcare workers.
The petitioner has filed an additional affidavit refuting BMC’s claim stating that most of the schemes are not implemented properly and also these schemes are only for the BMC employees and not all the frontline health workers.
Siddharth’s affidavit claims that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package is not effectively implemented.
“The financial incentives and honorarium announced for the post-graduate students and doctors performing Covid-19 duties should be extended to all the frontline medical personnel,” adds Siddharth.
The petitioner has also refuted BMC’s claim that continuous efforts are made by the state to ensure convenience to the healthcare workers by way of constituting the Central Medical Association of Resident Doctors’ (MARD) Grievance Committee as such committee will only function in respect of the resident medical officers and not the other frontline medical community.
BMC’s affidavit further claims that till date 45 of its employees who were on Covid-19 duty have died. Of these, 19 claims were sanctioned under the Union government scheme whereas 18 claims were rejected. The BMC said that it is sanctioning claims of these 18 persons under the state government’s schemes. Also, it is providing Covid-19 related treatment free of cost to its employees at MCGM hospitals.
Siddharth’s affidavit states that according to Indian Medical Association, 178 health workers have died due to Covid-19 in state – of these 48 were doctors, 10 were nurses and the remaining were health care personnel.