Doctors and frontline healthcare workers at Delhi's Covid-dedicated Hindu Rao Hospital - run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) - have threatened to withdraw their services within 48 hours in protest against non-payment of salaries for almost 4 months.
The warning comes after a months-long symbolic protest, which did not disrupt services, failed to move the authorities towards the plight of Hindu Rao Hospital's Covid Warriors.
Healthcare workers today sat on the road outside the hospital chanting "no salary no work".
Though the police stopped them from marching to the Lieutenant Governor's residence, a five-member delegation was later allowed to present a memorandum to Mr Anil Baijal.
"We have been protesting for the past several months. It is becoming increasingly difficult to survive like this; we can't even pay our EMIs... We will withdraw our services if this problem is not solved," Dr Abhimanyu Sardana, President of the hospital's Resident Doctors' Association, said.
The Covid Warriors, who not only endanger their lives but that of their family members while saving patients from COVID-19, said that they are forced to routinely protest to make the authorities listen to their demands.
"Why should we protest for every small demand and for something that's our right - our salary? If the government doesn't have to tell us to do our jobs, why should we have protest to get paid for our work," a nurse told NDTV reiterating Dr Sardana's statement.
However, the protest amid the pandemic seems to have finally moved the NDMC Mayor, who visited the protesting doctors, but promptly chose to shift the blame on the AAP-led Delhi government.
"We have not been able to pay the salaries but we don't have any money. The Delhi government needs to clear its dues to us; the blame lies with the state government. I have come here to listen to the doctors' problems and show that I am concerned about them," Jai Prakash, the Mayor of BJP-led NDMC, said.
The Delhi government has maintained that the MCD's incompetence under BJP was the root cause for this crisis.
"The Corona Warriors who should be honoured for their work are not getting any salary. How will they serve the society? I want to understand why is there such crisis in the MCD? All states have civic bodies, all have same source of income, then why is it that only the MCD doesn't have funds to pay doctors. These people (MCD) are incompetent. They don't know how to work. We are also not asking (the Centre) for funds and are managing in these times. Why is it that only MCD is facing a crunch while their leaders are getting richer?" AAP Minister Saurabh Bhardwaj said.
Earlier, Chairman of the NDMC Standing Committee Chhail Bihari Goswami, had told PTI, "For the current financial year and FY 2019-20, a huge amount of fund is due for the city, including under the salary segment. The government had allocated it to the civic bodies in its budget, but hasn't released the funds. So, we are unable to pay salaries."