Congress in a bind over Himachal emergency ambulance service scheme

Shimla: Success of the emergency ambulance service scheme has put opposition Congress in a spot who at one end are claiming it to be a rural health mission (RHM) program funded by the central government and at the same time demanding a CBI inquiry into an alleged scam in implementing the scheme.

Speaking to reporters in presence of Vilas Muttemwar, an All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary, state president Kaul Singh Thakur here today

File photo: Launch of 108 services
said, “we have pointed out several shortcomings in the ambulance service scheme that has been named as 108, Atal Swasthay Sewa and asked the Congress high command to initiate a CBI inquiry into it.”

Muttemwar said that the BJP led state had not only changed the name of the central health scheme but was not even letting the people know that it was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led UPA government that was funding it.

“We have set up state, district and block lever party committees to monitor all the 16 flagship programs of UPA I & II governments like MNREGA, RHM, Urban renewal program and others,” he said.

Joining issue with BJP breakaway group that has floated the Him Lokhshakti Party (HLP), senior congress leader GS Bali on Thursday in Kangra district before media accused the government of having bend tender conditions to allot the ambulance service scheme to GVKR Foundation – a not for profit organization.

On the same day Mohinder Sofat, a HLP member, pointed out the rate variances at which the service was being provided.

Taking the opposition and BJP breakaway group’s charges head on, health minister Rajeev Bindal on Friday said that he was prepared for an inquiry by any central agency, be it CBI or any other.

Giving details he said that since the scheme was launched on December 25, 2010, the ambulance service had benefited 132,272 patients in the state.

In 13 months of operation an expenditure of about Rs 32 crore had been incurred on the scheme which included a capital expenditure for purchasing 112 ambulances, equipments and a recurring expenditure to operate the service.

The service had catered to lifting 7996 accident victims, 26,938 pregnant women, 8133 respiratory distress patients, 6865 cardiac patients, 488 snake bite victims and 10,707 non accident patients, he said.

The results were that infant mortality rate had dropped by as much as 15 percent and institutional deliveries which for the past few years were hovering at 48 percent had gone up to 71 percent.

Rubbishing allegations about bending tender processes to benefit anybody, Bindal said that the government decision was challenged in the High Court, but the judges dismissed the petition maintaining that the government had acted fairly and within its powers to start the scheme.

File Photo: Amit

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