The state government has said it will invoke the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) if striking resident doctors do not resume work by Thursday morning.
Medical education minister Dr Vijaykumar Gavit announced this on Tuesday after doctors refused to accept the government’s offer of increasing their monthly stipend by Rs 5,000 and decreasing tuition fees.
Half of the total 4,900 resident doctors (post graduate and super speciality students) from government and civic medical colleges went on a strike from Tuesday morning. The students want the stipend increased by Rs 10,000-15,000.
Gavit said the government had agreed to provide security at all hospitals, but questioned the demand for guards 24x7. “The doctors should improve efficiency so that they do not enrage patients or their aggrieved relatives,” Gavit said.
The minister expects to end the misery of patients by starting emergency departments in all state and civic medical colleges. “This department will have medics on duty 24x7 and cater only to emergency cases. They will have every equipment and facility such as ventilators and intensive care units at their disposal,” Gavit said.
Gavit said the annual tuition fees (Rs44,000) that government and civic medical colleges charge from under-graduate as well as post-graduate students was much less than that of private colleges (more than Rs 2 lakh), and the monthly stipend given at these colleges (Rs 31,000-Rs 35,500) was much higher than at private institutes (Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000). He added that the state spent Rs30 lakh on every undergraduate student during the course, while the money spent on educating each post graduate student was Rs 40 lakh.