GUWAHATI: The hair-raising lynching of a 73-year-old doctor in 2019 still haunts other doctors and deters them from serving in the hospitals of tea gardens. There are no doctors at 50 per cent of the tea gardens across the State.
Sources in the Health department said that besides the non-availability of doctors, hundreds of posts are lying vacant in the garden hospitals. These include those of 660 pharmacists, 200 GNM nurses, 300 ANM nurses, 175 health assistants, 350 laboratory technicians and 600 ward boys.
In September, 2019 Dr Deben Dutta (73), who was posted at Teok Tea Estate in Jorhat district, was lynched by an angry mob after the death of a 35-year-old worker in the garden's hospital.
"Even after offering attractive salary and perks by the Health department as well as the garden managements, the majority of doctors are not coming forward to serve in the tea hospitals. Many doctors have cited the 2019's lynching case as one of the prime reasons for their reluctance and serve in tea garden hospitals. Many doctors who resigned and fled from the garden hospitals after the lynching have not yet returned to their places of posting," the source said.
The Assam branch of Indian Medical Association (IMA) has been arguing that that it is unsafe for doctors to work in certain tea garden areas for various reasons including inadequate security.
The Indian Tea Association (ITA) and the Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA) have said that in view of the recent incidents of assaults on doctors, it has become practically infeasible for estate managements to run the garden hospitals. "It is high time for the State Government to seriously consider the take-over of these hospitals and run them under the aegis of the Central and State Government health schemes," said an ITA official.