Cracking the whip, the Delhi government today invoked the stringent ESMA declaring as illegal the nurses’ stir which has severely affected functioning of state-run hospitals at a time when the city was grappling with rising cases of dengue and chikungunya. “The LG has approved the government’s proposal to invoke ESMA against agitating nurses,” a top official said.
The Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) allows the government to declare a strike illegal in public interest. Around 20,000 nurses of various hospitals run by the Delhi and central governments went on an indefinite strike over issues relating to their salary and allowances.
All major hospitals in Delhi, swamped by patients suffering from vector-borne diseases, tried to reach a common ground with their respective nurse associations, but in vain. All India Government Nurses Federation spokesperson Liladhar Ramchandani had yesterday said, “We are not happy with the response of the government. So we will go ahead with our proposed strike. But, we will attend to emergency and critical cases.”
Safdarjung Hospital which employs 1,100 nurses, including 160 on contract, has reported three dengue deaths in July. It has reported 263 dengue cases and nearly 250 chikungunya till August 29. The total number of fatalities in Delhi due to dengue now stands at eight, even though the municipal authorities have acknowledged only two such deaths. At least 487 cases of dengue have so far been reported in the national capital this season, with 368 of them being recorded last month.