The Delhi government on Monday asked municipal corporations to consider handing over their hospitals to it if they are unable to pay salaries and dues to doctors, paramedics and other staff who have threatened to go on strike.
Urban Development Minister Satyendar Jain said the situation, due to the threat of the strike, has forced the government to shift COVID-19 patients from the North Delhi Municipal Corporation-run Hindu Rao hospital to Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) hospital.
Mr Jain directed the additional chief secretary (urban development) to take up the issue with commissioners of the three municipal corporations, ruled by the BJP.
In a letter to commissioners of north, south and east Delhi municipal corporations, the additional director (local bodies) of the Urban Development Department said, "If MCDs are unable to pay salaries and facing difficulty in running their hospitals, they may consider handing over their hospitals to Delhi government to avoid any further anguish to medical, paramedical and other staff and inconveniences to patients and their relatives as well as citizens of Delhi during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic."
He said the municipal corporations should expeditiously clear all payments of salaries, wages and other dues to doctors, paramedical and other staff of their hospitals and submit a report to the Urban Development minister.
"Unability to pay the salaries and other dues in time has led to a situation where proper treatment to COVID-19 patients is not being given and COVID-19 patients are forced to shift from Hindu Rao hospital to Lok Nayak hospital for continued medical care," reads the letter.
The letter also said that under recommendations of 5th Delhi Finance Commission, the first and second installments of basic tax assignments by the Urban Development Department and grant in aid by Health and Education departments have already been released to the corporations by the Delhi government for 2020-21.
BJP leaders at the three municipal corporations have been accusing the Delhi government of "paralysing" their functioning by holding their financial dues under various heads.
Mr Jain, in his letter to the additional chief secretary (urban development), said It has been brought to his notice that medical, paramedical and other staff of Hindu Rao hospital, Kasturba hospital and other hospitals of municipal corporations have not been paid salaries, wages and other dues for months.
"Resident doctors" associations of these hospitals have threatened to go on strike if their dues are not cleared on time and MCD failed to meet the deadlines for paying them on time."
The situation has led to "inconvenience and improper treatment" to COVID-19 patients and has forced the Delhi government to shift coronavirus patients from Hindu Rao hospital to LNJP for continued medical care, Mr Jain said.
"It is evident that municipal corporations are finding difficulty in proper running and management of their hospital which has led anguish among doctors, paramedical and other staff, and inconvenience to patients, their relatives amid the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
Mr Jain asked the official for an "appropriate direction" to all three MCD commissioners for payments of salaries and other dues on time or hand over the hospitals to the Delhi government. He has also sought an action taken report on the matter.