After slashing the budget for as many as 18 welfare schemes funded by the Central government, it has come to the fore that the Modi government has not released fund to the Bihar government under the Ayushman Bharat-PM Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) in this financial year.
A source privy to the development told National Herald that the Centre has not released a single paisa to the BJP backed Nitish Kumar government in this financial year.
Although the obvious reason for not allocating a single paisa under the scheme is being cited as the “worst performance” of the state, health experts and leaders of Opposition parties believe responsibility for the implementation of the scheme lies with the ruling party.
“They cannot blame others for the poor performance of the state as BJP-JDU government has been at the helm for several years. They cannot escape the responsibility,” said a whistleblower and an expert who was involved in the formulation of the policies for Ayushman Bharat.
We tried to contact JD(U) spokespersons for their response but they either refused to comment or evaded the question saying, “It is an issue related with the governance”.
We were referred to talk to the Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey. But when we tried to reach out to the minister, we were told that “he is busy and he will get back to us as and when he gets time.”
“Health minister himself has admitted that his ministry has no expertise in carrying out such schemes. It shows the apathy and lack of seriousness on part of the NDA government. The dysfunctional and broken healthcare system in Bihar is a glaring example of how Nitish Kumar led NDA government failed people of Bihar,” said Sanjay Yadav,” an RJD leader and political advisor to Tejashwi Yadav.
It is important to mention here that out of ₹1,699 crore released by the Centre under AB-PMJAY this year to various states, Bihar got no grant despite having over one crore intended beneficiary families.
According to the data released by the health ministry, Bihar registered just around 156,000 hospital admissions under the scheme since its launch about 17 months ago, and only about 40 lakh individual e-cards have been issued in Bihar so far.
“Three large states (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar) which account for 30% of the beneficiary population are implementing the scheme for the first time and hence their demand is still picking up,” the Union Health Ministry told Parliament last week.
Experts believe that the poor performance of UP and Bihar has had a sharp impact on the scheme, whose allocation in the revised budget of 2019-20 has been halved to ₹ 3,200 crore from an initial allocation of ₹ 6,400 crore.
According to the government’s own submission, just ₹100 crores have been allocated to the BJP-ruled UP so far owing to its poor performance. Even out of the revised allocation of ₹3,200 crores, the Centre has been able to spend only ₹1,699 crore which is just over half of the total allocation.