Over 10,000 retired doctors of Gujarat are still deprived of Non-Practicing Allowance (NPA) as per the 7th Pay Commission recommendations.
Government doctors are entitled to NPA as compensation for sacrificing private practices. Many Gujarat doctors who retired after January 1, 2016 and June 1, 2019 are facing this issue.
Retired joint director of health services, Dr Madhavji Gajera, said, “Forget NPA, I have not been paid increment since 2021. The politics of bureaucrats in Gujarat is one reason behind the government not fulfilling our demands. The salaries of government doctors are almost equal to the pay of senior bureaucrats and many of them have a problem with this. NPA is our basic right and we have no one to address this to.”
He added, “From Nitin Patel (former Deputy Chief Minister), Vijay Rupani (former Gujarat Chief Minister) to now Rushikesh Patel (State Health Minister), doctors have frequently protested and approached ministers but it has led to no results.”
A retired government doctor, who refused to be named, said, “As a pensioner, I incurred a loss of Rs 18,000 per month. On average, a doctor loses 9.5 lakhs owing to the government’s inaction. What do we do now? We appealed to the government several times but our requests have fallen on deaf ears.”
“The government doesn’t want to pay doctors. They are launching new hospitals but not recruiting more doctors. To launch a government college or hospital, they transfer existing facilities to the new project and, after the launch, they shift the amenities back to their original places. This is unfair.”
In April 2022, Gujarat health minister Rushikesh Patel announced that doctors on government rolls from June 1, 2019, will be paid 20% NPA with arrears in five instalments from April 2022 to April 2024. The maximum salary limit comprising basic and NPA will not be more than Rs 2,37,500, it was declared. What about doctors who retired before June 1, 2019 remains unanswered.
Dr Hitendra Desai, affiliated with the Gujarat Medical Teachers’ Association, one of the government doctors’ associations, said this provision was made in a government resolution issued on May 16, 2021, but was withdrawn in the Government Regulation (GR) of November 22, 2021.
On May 16, 2021, the Gujarat government’s health department, under former CM Vijay Rupani’s leadership, issued a government resolution, addressing several demands of senior doctors dating back to 2012.
The issues included pension benefits, direct recruitment for ad-hoc appointments, payment of NPA and increments. However, this GR was not implemented and on November 22, 2021, the health department issued a second GR, withdrawing the earlier one in May.
In August 2021, the Gujarat government approved the NPA allowance for in-service doctors in government hospitals and teachers of the Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society (GMERS) medical colleges.
Nitin Patel announced the allowance on his Facebook page, calling it a “Rakshabandhan gift” for doctors and medical college teachers, who had been demanding this benefit for a long time and had even gone on strike when their voices weren’t heard.
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