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Delhi government cracks down on agitating nurses, as Capital reels under diseases

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Coming down hard on the strike declared by the nurses union in state-run hospitals, the Delhi government on Friday invoked the stringent ESMA declaring the agitation as illegal.

Even as a two-year-old girl died of dengue in the capital on Thursday, taking the total death toll to eight, the city hospitals are facing an extreme staff crunch as nurses and other paramedical staff responded to the nationwide strike called by trade unions.

A top official confirmed that Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung has approved Delhi government’s proposal to invoke ESMA against agitating nurses. The Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) allows the government to declare a strike illegal in public interest.

The municipal authorities have however acknowledged only two deaths till now.
More than 20,000 nurses of a number of hospitals run by the Delhi and central governments called an indefinite strike over issues relating to their salary and allowances.

Most of the hospitals in the capital, especially the ones run by state government are overflowing with patients suffering from various vector-borne diseases. Mamny of them are trying to reach a common gorund with the staff on strike and the ‘All India Government Nurses Federation’ spokesperson Liladhar Ramchandani had on Thursday 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.

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