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Centre Can Implement Ayushman Bharat in Bengal, State Won't Bear 40% Cost, Says Mamata

File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee addressing a rally.

File photo of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee addressing a rally.

Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said her government had already launched ‘Swasthya Sathi’ programme (two years ago), but she has no problem if the Centre wants to implement the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme

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Sujit Nath

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said her government will not bear the 40 per cent expense of the Centre’s ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme.

“I don’t have any problem if the Central government wants to implement ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme in West Bengal. We have already launched ‘Swasthya Sathi’ programmes (two years ago). Now, they want to implement the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme. 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,” Banerjee said during an administrative meeting at Kharagpur in West Midnapore.

She further directed the district administration to ensure that all people belonging to Lodha and Santhal tribal communities are included in the ‘Swasthya Sathi’ scheme. “We have announced this programme on February 17, 2016,” Banerjee said.

The scheme 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.

Recently, Banerjee, who is also the president of the ruling Trinamool Congress, had written to Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Banerjee stating that she has already implemented a health scheme in Bengal. “However, Ayushman Bharat Scheme may be extended by the Centre with an entire 100 percent expenditure for the scheme. In such a case, the entire funding for the scheme may be routed through the state government,” read the letter.

At a public rally in Krishnanagar in Nadia district in January 2019, the CM had announced the withdrawal of Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna and alleged that the Centre is using the picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the official communication to take credit for a jointly funded project.

“The logo has also been designed to resemble the party symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),” she had said.

With the Assembly elections scheduled to be held next year, Banerjee is trying to make the point that despite her willingness, the Centre is blocking these two schemes from being implemented in Bengal.

Addressing a public meeting at Siliguri in April 3, 2019, Modi had said Banerjee was creating hurdles in the execution of central schemes. “There is a speed-breaker in West Bengal and people call her ‘Didi’. We are releasing funds for the poor and she is coming in between as a speed-breaker. She is blocking our schemes meant for the betterment of the people because she loves poverty. We tried to implement the Ayushman health scheme but Didi blocked it,” he had said.

The PM’s reacted was in response to a circular issued by the state on April 12, 2017, changing the names of central government schemes, including Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, which is now known as ‘Mission Nirmal Bangla’.

Central schemes like ‘Aajeevika’ (National Rural Livelihood Mission), ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana’ and ‘Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Grameen)’ are now known as Anandadhara (State Rural Livelihood Mission), Banglar Gramin Sadak Yojana and Banglar Griha Prakalpa, respectively in West Bengal.


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