June 20, 2021 2:19:44 am
In another showdown with the Central government, the West Bengal government has alleged stoppage of Central funds meant for measures against dengue and other vector-borne diseases.
The Central government has refused the money, saying it has not received the state proposal on dengue and chikungunya since 2016, shows the remarks section on the National Health Mission website. This claim was contested by the state Health Department.
A senior health official said, “I don’t know why the Centre is saying that we have sent the information. Although there were some problems in sending it on dengue, we informed Delhi about all the outstanding proposals in February. In April, we sent all the proposals directly to the Central government. And the information on chikungunya has always been sent. The one-year figures that were not sent were also submitted in February and April. Despite that, the Centre has deprived Bengal of funds.”
The state government has sent a proposal of Rs 1.26 crore for dengue and chikungunya to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the current financial year. The demand includes Rs 18.20 lakh for dengue and chikungunya case management, and Rs 1.10 crore for purchase of vector-control machines. The state recorded 8,516 dengue cases and 14 deaths in 2015. Dengue cases went up to 22,865 and and 36,746 in 2016 and 2017 respectively while the toll stood at 45 and 48 in the same period.
TMC MP and secretary of the West Bengal Indian Medical Association (IMA) Shantanu Sen claimed that the Centre had always “downplayed” its demands.
“The BJP government at the Centre has always been depriving Bengal. It is nothing but step-motherly behavior. Why is it not done with other states? Amphan’s money was not given by the Centre. From oxygen plant to vaccines, it has downplayed Bengal’s demands in all cases,” said Sen.
Manas Gumta, general secretary of the Association of Health Service Doctors, a Left-wing organisation of government doctors, said, “It would not work if the state did not submit the proposal. But as a punishment for that mistake, withholding money for dengue control means directly depriving the people of Bengal. That’s also not done.”
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