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Kerala: NHM Workers on Three-Day Dharna Against Centre’s Neglect, Delay in Fund and Grant Release

NHM Employees Federation is accusing the union government of inordinately delaying health grants and other funds to government of Kerala, affecting beneficiaries and employees of the scheme.
K N Gopinath, the state secretary of the CITU, inaugurated the protest of the NHM employees on January 22.

K N Gopinath, the state secretary of the CITU, inaugurated the protest of the NHM employees on January 22. 

The employees of the National Health Mission (NHM) are holding a three-day dharna (sit-in protest) in front of the Kerala Raj Bhavan from January 22 to 24. The major demands of the protest include the immediate disbursal of NHM funds for the program withheld by the union government, withdrawal of steps to curb the funds to hospitals aimed at affecting the functioning of the projects, equal pay for equal work and other social security measures. 

The employees have accused the union government of delaying the disbursal of Rs 800 crore central grants for different schemes implemented and holding on to Rs 320 crore under various heads to the state government. Such delay has affected the payment of wages to the employees including doctors, nurses, paramedical and administrative staff. 

The NHM Employees Federation (NHMEF) is also demanding the government to implement the revised wages, disburse wage arrears, extension of Employees State Insurance (ESI) and Employee Provident Fund (EPF) for all the employees of the NHM. 


The government of Kerala has achieved remarkable feats in the public health system, including infrastructural development and high indices on several health parameters. The state has opposed the change of names of the NHM centres to Ayushman Arogya Mandirs as proposed by the Union Ministry of Health.

The minister for health and family welfare, Veena George, had accused the union government of refusing to release funds demanding co-branding. “After the state government included six different logos provided by the union government. Now the funds are withheld since we have not changed the name of the centres,” she said. 

The holding back of funds has impacted the functioning of different schemes implemented through NHM in government hospitals and health centres, additional financial strain to the state government to ensure the continuation of various schemes and delays in wages to the employees of NHM. 

Inaugurating the protest on January 22, K N Gopinath, the state secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) accused the union government of targeting the state of Kerala by withholding the funds for various NHM projects. 

“The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led union government has yet to release Rs 800 crore as a health grant for Kerala. Another amount of Rs 320 crore is pending under different categories, including allocation for Human Resources (HR). This delay in sanctions of funds is badly affecting the projects aimed at ensuring universal access to public health,” Gopinath told NewsClick. 

Hundreds of employees attached to the NHM are participating in the three-day dharna in front of the Raj Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram.

Hundreds of employees attached to the NHM are participating in the three-day dharna in front of the Raj Bhavan, Thiruvananthapuram.

The three-day protest was announced by the NHMEF after sustained struggles during the last six months, demanding the rightful share of the state to continue the effective implementation of the various schemes under NHM.

“This delay is affecting the supply of medicines to beneficiaries under different schemes. The union ministry has not sanctioned any funds for the current financial year,” Meera Nair, the general secretary of NHMEF, told NewsClick. 


The state government has been releasing its share of funds to the NHM projects to keep the functioning alive, including the extension of various services and wages to the employees.

“The employees, including doctors, nurses and other administrative staff, are affected by the delay in salary disbursal. The employees in the lower cadres solely depend on their salaries. The delay is affecting their livelihood itself,” Nair said. 

The employees, around 12,500, are working on contract without any social welfare measures, including ESI, EPF and pension benefits, despite putting in years of service. Further, the employees are raising the demand for equal pay for equal work. 

“The workers are on contract and are not entitled to any of the social welfare measures besides receiving a lower salary. We are demanding the respective governments ensure ESI EPF facilities for all the employees. The governments should pay equal wages for equal work, and there should not be any discrimination on this ground,” Nair said 

Hundreds of employees are participating in the three-day dharna to reiterate their long-pending demands and rights for the government of Kerala. 

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