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Days after 2 ST employees committed suicide, Medicine vendors to go on hunger strike against Uddhav Thackeray govt over pending dues: Details

The Shiv Sena-led government's reluctance to pay salaries to its employees comes at the backdrop of recent reports that BMC had paid Rs.82.5 lakh in legal charges to a senior lawyer for representing the municipal body in Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow demolition.

The All Food and Drugs Licence Holders Foundation (AFDLHF), which supplies medicines to civic hospitals and medical colleges in Maharashtra, has called a hunger strike against the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government on Thursday over non-payment of dues worth Rs 206 crores.

According to the reports, the critical medicine suppliers have decided to stage a protest against Maharashtra government alleging that despite regularly supplying medicines to civic hospitals and medical colleges, the procurement cell of Haffkine Institute, Mumbai has not released dues over the past seven months.

In a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the AFDLHF has stated that they did not have money to pay staffers their salaries during the festival season.

“Due to the non-receipt of the payments, our members’ financial condition got disturbed. We don’t have the funds to pay salaries to staff/workers. We don’t even have money to buy raw materials,” letter written by AFDLHF to Chief Minister’s office reads.

The Maharashtra government rules allow only Haffkine Institute to procure medicines all across Maharashtra. The institute selects a vendor, who supply medicines to civic and government-run hospitals, medical colleges, dispensaries among others. The vendors have now claimed they have not received their pending money since May despite submitting bills to the institute.

No money to pay school fees or celebrate Diwali, says vendors

According to AFDLHF, the Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER) has to pay a total pending amount of Rs 93 crore, while Maharashtra’s Directorate of Health Service (DHS) has to pay the remaining Rs 113 crore.

Abhay Pandey, president of AFDLHF, said DHS has released our money but the institute has no dispersed it to vendors. “We get blacklisted if we delay the supply of medicines to hospitals, but what about our sufferings? We have sent several letters to the authority but no one has paid any heed,” Pandey asked.

“People are lighting up their houses for Diwali, but we don’t even have the money to pay school fees of my children,” said another vendor.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Medical Education and Drugs Department, Saurabh Vijay, said that he was not aware of the situation right now but will look into it.

These protests against Maharashtra government over the non-payment of their rightful dues are not new. The Maharashtra government’s reluctance to pay dues and salaries to their employees has now taken many lives in the state.

Maha govt employees ending lives over non-payment of bills

Just a few days back, two employees of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation had committed suicide over the issue of non-payment of dues, reduction in salaries and irregularities. Manoj Chaudhary, a Jalgaon ST bus conductor had ended his life by hanging himself. In his suicide note, he had blamed the ST corporation and Thackeray government for the non-payment and reduction in salary for the last several months.

Similarly, another ST employee, Pandarang Gadde had committed suicide over the issue non-payment of salaries from the last four months by the Maharashtra government. Earlier in August, an ST employee of the Maharashtra government had committed suicide for over non-payment of salary for over two months. Amol Mali, the ST worker, after being in depression for not receiving his salary for the period of the last two months, had decided to end his life.

Doctors and nurses from other states were deferred payment by Maharashtra government

It is also pertinent to note that not just ST employees and workers but the frontline forces of doctors and nurses battling the coronavirus pandemic were also not paid their dues by the Maharashtra government.

In July this year, several doctors and nurses from Kerala, who had come to Mumbai at the Maharashtra state government’s bidding to fight the coronavirus spread in the city, had gone back to their state as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) failed in paying them their salaries.

Even as the Maharashtra government is busy in carrying out a witch-hunt against its critics who have dared to raise their voices against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state, the concerns of the common man, especially the government employees have fallen on deaf ears, forcing them to take drastic steps.

The Shiv Sena-led government’s reluctance to pay salaries to its employees comes at the backdrop of recent reports that BMC had paid Rs.82.5 lakh in legal charges to a senior lawyer for representing the municipal body in Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow demolition.

Shockingly, the Uddhav Thackeray government has shown unusual alacrity in spending state exchequer to push his vendetta against his dissidents, however, it has failed to address the concerns of the government employees who are now facing a crisis because of the Uddhav Thackeray’s misplaced priorities.

Maharashtra government sanctions the purchase of luxury vehicles for its ministers, spends money on PR

Just recently, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government had not shied away from authorising the purchase of vehicles for its ministers. The approval from the Uddhav Thackeray government came at a time when the Maharashtra Treasury was in a bad shape in the wake of coronavirus induced lockdown in the state.

The Maharashtra government, disregarding the acute financial crisis suffered by thousands of government employees, had sanctioned the purchase of 6 new luxury vehicles for their ministers.

It is also important to mention that amidst the coronavirus pandemic that had severely had the state in its grip, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government had floated an e-tender, inviting private advertising agencies to apply for managing the PR of the Chief Minister and the Government of Maharashtra. 

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