With their demand for a stipend hike yet to see the light of the day, medical interns in Maharashtra have threatened to launch a State-wide strike.
In April and May last year, medical interns from across the State had similarly threatened to launch an indefinite strike if their stipend of ₹6,000 was not hiked. While they had received verbal assurance from the government, the Association of State Medical Interns (ASMI), that claims to represent over 5000 interns from 21 government medical colleges, said that the demand has not seen any movement since a year.
The interns have sought a meeting with the State Minister of Medical Education, Girish Mahajan and the Directorate of Medical Education (DMER) officials before June 15.
However, Dr. Tatyarao Lahane, director, DMER, said he has not received the letter yet and that they will make a request to the government after receiving the letter.
“Internship is a part of the syllabus of their undergraduate course. Several States don’t even pay a stipend, but we do. The government will contemplate on whether to increase the stipend or not. We have already written to the government to increase their stipend. We will recommend their demand to the government once we receive their letter,” Dr. Lahane said.
Mr. Mahajan remained unavailable for a comment.
“Until 2005, medical interns in the State were paid ₹850 as stipend, that was then hiked to ₹2,500. In 2012, it was further hiked to ₹6,000. After the new government was elected, we have asked several times for a hike, but have not received it yet. We even took two follow-ups last year, but were told that the file is stuck in the finance department,” Dr. Hrushikesh Mankar (22), president, ASMI said.
According to the interns, the present stipend amount falls insufficient for their travel and food expenses and that they have to struggle to make their ends meet.
“Staying in cities like Mumbai is in itself a costly affair. As interns, we are placed in urban health centres that are far away from our college and hostel. We cannot ask our parents for money every now and then, as we also have a hefty educational fee to pay each year,” Dr. Mankar, a student of Topiwala National Medical College that is attached to the civic-run B.Y.L. Nair Hospital, said.