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Health personnel on warpath

Ranchi, Jan. 6: Over thousand paramedical personnel across Jharkhand went on an indefinite strike today in demand of regularisation of their services, throwing the state’s healthcare machinery out of gear.

To add to the health department’s woes, around 62,000 contractual employees under the Jharkhand Rural Health Mission (JRHM) are planning to launch a similar agitation from January 9, demanding annual increment.

Today, as many as 1,347 paramedical staff posted at community health centres, district hospitals and other heal hubs launched an indefinite protest to mount pressure on the administration.

Also, under the banner of All Jharkhand Paramedical Association (contract), two paramedics from each district sat on a hunger strike near Raj Bhavan.

The association’s president Dharmendra Kumar Singh said, “The government is paying no heed to our demands. This is not the first time that we are staging a dharna to draw the administration’s attention towards our plight. But, we have only received false promises.”

These paramedical personnel have been working on contract since 2005.

However, Dr Praveen Chandra, director in chief, the health services, told The Telegraph that the government had already initiated the process to regularise them.

“I am sure they are aware that we have initiated the process and guidelines for regularisation of services are being drafted. Once the guidelines are approved by the state cabinet, the final process (for regularisation) will start,” he added.

Though the health department seems ready with its explanation to persuade the agitating paramedics to return to work, it must brace for another blow in the next few days.

Rahul Pratap, the state president of NRHM Anubandhit Karmachari Sangh, said earlier they had plans to go on a strike from January 8, but they delayed it by a day.

“We have been refused a minimum 10 per cent annual increment in the last two years. We want the hike,” he said.

He added according to rules laid down by the NRHM head office in New Delhi, contractual workers were entitled to a 10 per cent hike every year.

According to Pratap, around 50 rural health workers will sit on a hunger strike on RCH (Reproductive Child Health) campus in Namkum while others will hold demonstrations near civil surgeons’ offices in their respective districts. The proposed stir will affect Village Health and Nutrition Day (VHND), Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and other programmes at rural health centres.

Mission director (NRHM) Manish Ranjan said, “I am personally in favour of giving the increment. I need to find out why the file related to the increment has not been cleared as yet.”

Sources said finance director (NRHM) K.K. Bhagat was sitting on the file.