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Seeking govt benefits,tea vendor caught in the web of procedures

Trying to avail benefits under the Balri Rakshak Yojana of the Punjab government for his two daughters...

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Bathinda |
June 7, 2010 11:31:20 pm

Trying to avail benefits under the Balri Rakshak Yojana (BRY) of the Punjab government for his two daughters,a tea vendor finds himself trapped in the cobweb of “procedural requirements” of the health department. For the last eight months,Bhushan Kumar has been shuttling between various offices,without any success.

BRY aims to balance the state’s skewed sex ratio by encouraging parents of girls. The scheme motivates couples from economically weaker sections to adopt the terminal methods of sterilisation and offers Rs 500 every month if they opt for vasectomy or tubectomy after the birth of one girl and Rs 700 (Rs 350 each) per month after the birth of two girls.

A resident of Phul town in this district,Bhushan Kumar submitted an application in September 2009 to avail the benefits. Bhushan claims that after the birth of their second daughter in January 2009 through a Caesarean operation at a private hospital,his wife Sunita underwent a tubectomy.

The district health authorities initially denied his claims,saying it was not sure if the benefit under the scheme could be given if a tubectomy had been performed at a private institution. After a series of communications between different offices — Bathinda deputy commissioner who is also the president of PNDT Cell,Bathinda,civil surgeon and health and family welfare director — the Bathinda health department was instructed by the health directorate to consider the case after checking the authenticity of the tubectomy performed on Sunita.

But even after receiving the directions in December 2009,the health authorities allegedly failed to act. In April,Bhushan sent legal notices to the health director and Bathinda civil surgeon.

On May 10,Bhushan wrote to the director and other officials concerned,narrating his ordeal and reiterating his demand for the benefit under the BRY,besides seeking legal action against the officials responsible for putting “irrelevant noting” on his application.

Bhushan claimed that his wife was summoned by Rampura Phul senior medical officer (SMO) for an examination by a gynaecologist following “a complaint that Sunita is pregnant”. “We maintained that Sunita could not get pregnant as she underwent a tubectomy in January 2009. We offered to face any examination,” said Bhushan. The gynaecologist,meanwhile,wrote to the district family welfare officer to get a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) (an infertility test) done on Sunita to ascertain whether she actually underwent a tubectomy.

“We went to the district family welfare officer for the test but he asked us to get the HSG done from a private institution. It all started with objections on tubectomy done from a private institution,and now we were being asked to certify the same tubectomy by getting another test done from a private institution,” said Bhushan.

District Family Welfare Officer Dr Raghubir Singh Randhawa admitted that he had initially asked Bhushan to go to a private institution for the test,but added that after discussing the matter with the civil surgeon it was decided that test from a government institution only would be entertained.

SMO Dr Dalip Singh said the case had been moving at a “procedural pace” and the ball was in the Bathinda health authorities’ court now. He said he had even written to the civil surgeon,seeking that if the case could be disposed of at the Bathinda civil hospital level.

Civil Surgeon Dr Inder Dyal Goel said Bhushan was eligible for benefits under the BRY. “But his wife’s tubectomy has to be certified. The moment he submits an HSG report from an authorised institution,the case will be through.” Asked whether an HSG can be performed at the Bathinda hospital,Dr Goel said he had asked the radiologist for this,but he (radiologist) said he was not trained to perform the test.

The health director could not be contacted for comments.

“Such instances can explain why there have been less than 300 beneficiaries under the BRY since its launch in 2005. There is a total lack of awareness and not much has been done to bring more people under the scheme,” said Bathinda PNDT Project Officer Sadhu Ram Kusla.

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