By RAKESH DIXIT
The Odisha government has finally cracked the whip on those doctors who have been refusing to join duty in remote tribal-dominated districts for years.
The government has now sacked 52 doctors who did not join the duty despite reminders.
Of the 52 doctors, 28 had been deputed to hospitals in the backward pockets of Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Kandhmal and Raygada districts, almost all facing Maoist trouble.
The state government’s order was clear and unequivocal.
“Since the whereabouts of these absentee medical officers were not known, they were informed through a notice published in newspapers and were asked to appear before the designated authority and acknowledge the charges made out against them in person.
"But as there was no response, in tune with the provisions of the Odisha Civil Service Rules, 1962 they were dismissed from service,” the government’s order stated.
State’s Health Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak justified the move, saying the obstinacy of these doctors had defeated the objective of providing health services to people in remote areas.
“We are offering extra incentives to the doctors who work in the backward KBK ( Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) belt and such other areas.
"But if they still don’t turn up for duty, the state government has to take disciplinary action,” he said.
Currently, state government is paying Rs 8,000 extra allowance to doctors posted in the district headquarters hospitals (DHHs) in the KBK areas, Rs 5,000 extra to those posted in the sub-divisional hospitals (SDHs) in this belt and Rs 3,000 extra to doctors serving in the community health centres (CHCs) in the region.
Meanwhile, to attract doctors to government jobs, the state government is planning a special package that would offer them double their present salary if they work in the remote and difficult areas.