Medical interns across Maharashtra are on hunger strike demanding a stipend of Rs. 13,000. The current stipend is Rs. 2,550 a month. The strike, which entered second day on Tuesday, had interns pouring in from far off districts.
“We work 70 to 120 hours a week handling emergencies, providing medication and conducting basic examinations. We are provisional doctors. We have met the Chief Minister and the Ministers concerned and officials, but there has been no response,” said Mayur Ambedkar of the Association of State Medical Interns (ASMI), Maharashtra.
According to ASMI, Maharashtra is among the worst paying States. West Bengal pays a stipend of Rs. 14,000, Jammu and Kashmir Rs. 19,500, and Delhi pays Rs. 13,000. Even States like Bihar and Jharkhand pay a stipend of Rs. 7,000.
The interns said Maharashtra was not following guidelines of the Medical Council which recommended the stipend to be “50 per cent of the pay for junior resident, which is between Rs. 27,000 and Rs. 29,000.”
Secretary, Medical Education, Milind Mhaiskar, conceded that the internship stipend in Maharashtra was among the lowest and there was a need to hike it.
“We received their representation in the last week of March. After several rounds of meetings, we had arrived at an increased figure of Rs. 6,000. We requested them not to go on strike. Thereafter, they have not come forward to discuss and have immediately struck work. Whatever be the merits of the case, the strike is not justified. It is illegal under the Essential Services Maintenance Act [ESMA],” Mr. Mhaiskar told The Hindu over telephone.
The Maharashtra government said it was open for negotiations. It was prepared to invoke the ESMA, if need be.