Bengal govt opts out of Modi's National Health Protection Scheme

The Mamata Banerjee-led government in Bengal has opted out of the centre's National Health Protection Scheme stating that it will put unnecessary burden on the state's resources.

The centre has made a provisional allocation of Rs2,000 crore for the scheme while the remaining portion of the scheme, which is pegged at Rs5,500-6,000 crore by government's think tank NITI Aayog, has to be borne by state governments..

Mamata said her government has made hospitalisation and treatment free in Bengal and the centre's scheme is a waste of states' resources. She said the state will not ''waste'' its hard-earned resources to contribute its share to the programme.

''The centre has drawn up a health plan in which 40 per cent of the fund has to come from states. But why should the state spend on another programme when it already has its own? A state will have its own scheme if it has the resources,'' Banerjee said while addressing a public meeting in Krishnanagar.

She said her government has made necessary provisioning for the healthcare programme in spite of resource crunch. ''We have done it even after the centre takes away Rs48,000 crore a year for debt-servicing the loan liability left behind by the preceding CPM government,'' she pointed out.

She said the state government has already enrolled 5 million people under its own Swasthya Sathi programme.

The CM also referred to the ''paltry'' allocation for PM Modi's Beti Bachao project. ''The Centre has floated Beti Bachao with a paltry allocation of Rs100 crore for the entire country; Bengal has provided for Rs5,000 crore for its own Kanyashree project,'' she added.

She also criticised the centre on the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, saying, ''The centre has now come up with an FRDI Bill that allows banks to take away a portion of your fixed deposits. We have asked them to withdraw this bill. This will lead people away from banks at a time when we are asking depositors against parking their hard-earned money in chit funds.''

''They took away homemakers' lakshmir bhanr (piggy banks) during demonetisation, brought everyone under GST and dealt a blow to small traders and businessmen. Now they are eying fixed deposits,'' she said.

Banerjee also flayed the centre for touting pro-farmer policies when ''as many as 12,000 farmers committed suicide all over India''.

''The highest death toll comes from BJP-ruled Maharashtra,'' she said, announcing her alternative Bengal model. ''Our government has waived land rent for farmers. We also gave Rs1,200 crore as relief to about 30 lakh farmers' families when their crops were damaged by unseasonal rain. We have also hiked the monthly pension for aged farmers by Rs250 a month,'' the CM said, appealing to people to elect TMC candidates in the coming panchayat polls.