Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday reiterated that her government was ready to implement the Centre’s flagship health scheme Ayushman Bharat if the Union government bankrolls it completely. Banerjee said West Bengal would not bear 40 per cent of the expenditure as mandated in the scheme.
At an administrative meeting in Kharagpur, Banerjee said while the state government’s “Swasthya Sathi” programme — announced on February 17, 2016, and launched on December 30 that year, long before Ayushman Bharat — covers seven crore people, the central scheme will insure only 1.5 crore people.
“I do not have any problem if the central government wants to implement the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme in West Bengal. We have already launched the ‘Swasthya Sathi’ programme. Now, they want to implement ‘Ayushman Bharat’. They are most welcome to do so, but we won’t contribute towards it with any fund. Let them bear 100 per cent cost for the scheme.”
The Chief Minister directed the district administration to ensure that people from the Lodha and Santhal Adivasi communities are included in the “Swasthya Sathi” programme.
The ‘Swasthya Sathi project was officially launched on December 30, 2016, and the main feature of the scheme is a basic health cover for secondary and tertiary care up to Rs 5 lakh per annum per family.
Ayushman Bharat is funded with 60 per cent contribution coming from the central government and the remaining 40 per cent from the states.
Last month, Banerjee told Union Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan in a letter, “Ayushman Bharat scheme may be extended by the government of India with the entire 100 per cent expenditure for the scheme in such a case, the entire funding for the scheme may be routed through the state government.”
At the meeting, she criticised the Centre’s role in the “Ghatal Master Plan” that was intended to control floods in the district’s Ghatal sub-division.
Banerjee also announced jobs and financial assistance for families of those who have died or are missing for over a decade because of Maoist violence in the state’s Jangalmahal area. The districts of Jhargram, Paschim Medinipur, Bankura, Purulia, and Birbhum.
The Chief Minister also announced jobs for the kin of those who have been killed in elephant attacks in the area.
“One member from each family that has lost their near and dear ones to Maoist violence or are missing for more than a decade will be provided financial compensation of Rs 4 lakh and a job in the state home guard force. We will also provide jobs to one member from each family that has lost their kin in attacks by elephants in the area,” Banerjee said.
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