Despite the state government having identified some 14 lakh people as living under the Below Poverty Line (BPL),only 41 BPL patients have benefited from the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi Scheme for healthcare during the last financial year. The fact that there seems to be no takers in the state for the centrally sponsored healthcare scheme for below poverty line families was revealed by a CAG report tabled in the Punjab Assembly on Wednesday.
The report says the ineffective implementation of the national policy for the benefit of the BPL families and the failure of the state government to publicise the benefits of the scheme has resulted in Rs 2.95 crore remaining underutilised for over three years. This underutilisation has further marred the scope of the government to receive a matching grant of Rs 62.5 lakh from the union government.
The audit report has also raised serious doubts over the functioning of government medical colleges and hospital under the Director,Research and Medical Education,Punjab. It states that medical equipment costing Rs 3.92 crore, required for specialised healthcare,is lying unused for want of required infrastructure,accessories and qualified staff. Further,the government medical colleges in Punjab are facing acute shortage with data showing that both the medical colleges at Amritsar and Patiala have 36 per cent shortage of medical professionals,the report reads. It also points out that medical seats for graduate and undergraduate courses are grossly inadequate even as there is a lack of super-speciality courses on offer for medical students in the state.
The state governments efforts to improve healthcare in the state are not encouraging either. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has himself contributed to the loss to the exchequer by making announcements which have caused a blockage of Rs 6.64 crore. As per the CAG report,the chief minister at various public meetings in the last five years,had made announcements to open hospitals,community health centres,which have not materialised.