No Salary, Only Harassment: Govt Doctor forced to run autorickshaw to make ends meet
Bangalore: In what can be termed as a pitiful incident, a 53-year-old qualified Government doctor has been running an auto-rickshaw in the streets of Bangalore for the past four days to meet his ends. The doctor was left with no option but to turn into an auto-rickshaw driver after his salary was held for over a year in wake of alleged harassment meted out by IAS officers.
The case concerns a district reproductive and child health officer, Dr M H Raveendranath, who has been associated with the Health and Family Welfare Department in the Ballary district for more than two decades. He has also served for 17 long years in rural areas with distinction and has been awarded for improving the public healthcare system in the Ballari district. He had been conferred with the 'best medical officer' award for the year 2009-10.
However, the medical officer recently opened up on the reason for choosing to run auto-rickshaw and the alleged harassment he had been going through in the past.
The doctor alleged that the reason behind his plight is one of the IAS officers whom he refused to help in 2018. Shedding light on the incident, the doctor elaborated that the IAS officer who was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Zilla panchayat during the period 2017-19, approached him to appoint his classmate as a specialist doctor under National Health Mission (NHM).
However, the doctor refused to go against the protocol and expressed his inability to accede to his recommendation.
Triggered by denial, the IAS officer allegedly began harassing him and used to serve show-cause notices unnecessarily and verbally abused him at meetings. After his transfer, his successor continued with a similar attitude, the doctor claimed.
The officers allegedly plotted against the doctor and got him suspended by the Zilla Panchayat CEO on technical grounds on June 6, 2019, in relation to the technical tender bid evaluation. The doctor claimed that the mistake committed in the e-tender process relating to the outsourcing of work by a clerk at the Zilla Panchayat office was intentionally put on him.
Days after the suspension, the doctor appeal in the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal, which in October reversed the government order and ordered to be reinstated.
Following the order of KAT, he was posted in a taluk hospital as a senior medical officer at Sedam General Hospital, Kalabaurgi district in December, which was a demotion for him. He once again approached KAT to direct the authorities to appoint him in a district-level hospital in January.
However, the authorities ignored KAT's order and he has not been posted yet, nor has he received any salary for 15 months after which he had to rely on running an auto-rickshaw to maintain his livelihood.
The aggravated doctor told Times of India "I am yet to get a posting when I wrote seeking a transfer, officials responded saying my presence was required in Sedam due to COVID-19. When KAT gave its ruling, there was no pandemic. Hundreds of medical staff were transferred during this time including a doctor from Sadam General Hospital. I have filed a contempt petition and the hearing is scheduled for September 11th."
On asking why the doctor did not opt for private practice and has to the run auto-rickshaw, the doctor clarified that even if he wanted to continue his private practice he would have to seek help from the same officer to ensure a license for a private clinic and he was sure that they would refuse to help him.
He told the daily, "I did not have enough funds to start a business. I approached a couple of banks to get a loan but they refuse to sanction an auto-rickshaw loan to one who has worked in the healthcare sector. Eventually, an agency financed me, and I have started my new journey."
Commenting on the matter, Jawaid Akhtar, the Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department stated that he was not familiar with the condition of the doctor and he would definitely look into the matter to take necessary steps in order to alleviate his plight.