Uttarakhand doubles pay, throws in some perks to lure retd army doctors, terms it ‘investment’
The Uttarakhand government, which had announced with much hype its plan to rope in retired army doctors for serving in the hill state earlier this year, has hiked the proposed salary package for them by up to 50%.
This comes at a time when the mountain state is already battling debts to the tune of around R 30,000 crore.
After storming to power earlier this year, the BJP government had sought the deployment of retired army doctors during a meeting between Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat at Dehradun in June. Gen Rawat, who hails from Uttarakhand, readily agreed to the proposal, CM had said at the time.
The move was aimed at improving health services, especially in the remote hill areas, as Uttarakhand is battling around 60% shortage of doctors at present. The state has around 1100 doctors on board against the sanctioned posts of 2700.
Over 100 applications of former army doctors — having varied experience and falling under various categories — were received after the government moved the proposal. Initially, a pay package ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.25 lakh depending on their specilization was proposed.
“However, the army doctors sought a further hike in the package according to their specialization. Accordingly, the proposed package was hiked by up to 50% along with offering free accommodation for them wherever available,” a health department source said.
As per the revised proposal, super specialist doctors such as neuro-surgeons are likely to be offered Rs 1,85,000 while specialists would be offered Rs 1,75,000. The MBBS and diploma doctors are likely to get Rs 1,50,000
“The proposal has been prepared depending on expertise and experience (of the retired army doctors). It is yet to be cleared by the finance department though,” Dr Archana Srivastava, director general (medical health and family welfare), told HT.
As per the finance department, the total debt of the government of Uttarakhand as on March 31, 2016 was Rs 29,836 crore. In November, the government had floated a 10 year loan of Rs 300 crore, which was preceded by another loan of Rs 500 crore in October.
Darshan Singh Rawat, media coordinator of CM Rawat, however, defended the move saying that the proposed hike in the package was “not as much as would be the benefits of getting army specialists” to the state. “Our government’s first priority is to bring doctors to the state and the expenditure would not matter much if it is for the public health...it will, in fact, be a long-term investment (in public health),” Rawat told HT. He added that negotiations were still going on to finalise the deployment of army doctors in the state.
Most of the former army doctors who had applied for serving in the state include specialists like radiologists, orthopedic surgeons, gynecologists, anaesthetists and physicians besides few MBBS doctors.
Incidentally, around two months ago, the defence ministry turned down a move by the Uttarakhand government requesting the army to take over the management of two state-run medical colleges --- one in Srinagar and the other coming up in Almora. “We will again make a representation to the defence ministry urging it to spare its retired medical specialists to run the two medical colleges,” state cabinet minister Madan Kushik had said then.
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