Mumbai– Cracking the whip, Maharashtra has decided to sack 477 government doctors who have remained absent from duty after joining the service, some for nearly 15 years, a state minister said on Monday.

“We have decided to act against them,” said Health and Family Welfare Minister Deepak Sawant.

Many doctors, who were appointed by the government for its hospitals or clinics across the state, went missing after joining services and are usually referred to as “absconders”.

Sawant said that a whopping 581 such ‘absconders’ have been identified by his ministry and out of them, the services of 104 have already been terminated.

“They (such doctors) come, appear for the interviews, collect their appointment letters and join the department. After a few days, they just leave. We are not able to stop them, nor can the courts. Ideally, they should submit their resignation before going,” he said.

The government has informed the Maharashtra Medical Education Department and Maharashtra Medical Council who will decide the future course of action against these medicos.

“Out of these 581 doctors, some of them have not reported for duty for 10-12 years and others for 12-15 years. They have’nt rpt have’nt been paid salaries during the period of absence,” noted Sawant.

While a majority of these cases are mainly from the rural areas, the process of issuing notices has already been taken up, even making a request to them to rejoin duties.

Responding to the notices, some of them said they preferred to switch over to lucrative private practice, or taken up better job offers in different hospitals, while it came to be known that a few left the country for higher studies or employment. Some others just ignored the government communication.

The matter was raised in the Maharashtra legislature on several occasions in the past and the government had assured strict action against the ‘absconder’ medicos.

The government is also toying with the idea of approaching the Medical Council of India to suspend the licences of these ‘absconders’ to serve as a warning to other potential defaulters.

Department officials said that such irresponsible behaviour created immense difficulties for the government in providing medical services and facilities to the poor and people in moffussil areas.

Since the appointed medicos continued to remain on the records, the government could not show new vacancies or make fresh appointments, due to which the existing staff were under severe strain. (IANS)