It has been seven months, Admin can’t afford to bear the expenses further, says Div Com
Srinagar: While doctors are being hailed as frontline COVID warriors throughout the world, doctors and paramedics in Kashmir putting up in hotels designated as administrative quarantine centres in Srinagar have alleged that they are struggling to access basic facilities.
Speaking to Free Press Kashmir a Doctor on the condition of anonymity said that the local hotel owners have started denying them food now.
The hotel owners in a letter issued to district magistrate Srinagar have said that they were compelled to snap the services owing to the “non-payment of dues”.
“We would like to inform you that more than seven months have passed and we have not been paid a single penny till date against the bills already submitted by us up to the end of August 2020, which are lying in your office. We have invested a huge amount of money during this period and have been rendered completely exhausted financially,” the letter read.
The letter said that the hotel owners cannot provide the medics and facilities anymore.
The hotels included in the letter are: Hotel Golden Tulip, Hotel Heritage Luxury, Hotel Star of Kashmir, Hotel Grand Comforts, Hotel Mahtab Palace and Hotel Valley View.
Around 50 doctors and paramedics are putting up in each hotel. They include the health professionals from SKIMS (JVC) Bemina, Government Super Speciality Hospital Srinagar, Health Department, SMHS hospital, and Airport staff.
“We are spending from our own pocket. The kitchen was closed, and food services were stopped since November 1,” a group of doctors told Free Press Kashmir.
What is more baffling is that the doctors who are supposed to stay in administrative quarantine to prevent spread of infection have to instead wander on the streets to buy food.
“Imagine the doctors who come to the hotel after discharging their duties and are sent to fetch food in this biting cold. When we are supposed to be in quarantine, we are going out and buying food from outside,” said a doctor.
He pointed out that frontline workers are already being targeted for being associated with COVID.
“We have been stigmatized for discharging COVID duties. We are not even allowed to visit shops or canteens. Who would give us a rented accommodation in this crisis?” asked another doctor.
General Manager of The Valley View Hotel Sheikh Adil said the food services snapped after the administration failed to clear the dues which amounted to Rs 2 crores.
“We were providing the best services to doctors who are at the frontline. But now the hotel has a liability of grocery shops, departmental stores, electricity bills, cable fee, laundry, and internet bills, etc, which need to be cleared,” he said.
Adil noted that he had submitted all the details to the DC office but has not received any positive response. “Our savings have been exhausted. We kept on reminding them to release the payments but they were dilly-dallying,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Shahid Chowdary said that funds have been received from Government on November 11 through BEAMS (Budget Estimation, Allocation & Monitoring System) are being placed at the disposal of head of concerned medical institutions for making the payment against their demands raised therein.
“This is in specific reference to hotels provided to staff of hospitals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir PK Pole said the district administration had set up these administration centers when the COVID broke out in the valley.
“Now seven months have gone by, and the government cannot afford to bear the expenses further. However, the pending dues of the hotels will be cleared by district administration soon as the funds have been received,” Pole said.