Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took pot shots at the Naveen Patnaik led government for demurring the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Yojana to be rolled out on September 23 from Jharkhand.
“I’m perplexed why the Naveen Patnaik government has skipped the Ayushman Bharat Yojana. This scheme will benefit 10 crore families with a population of about 50 crore, more than the combined population of US, Canada and Mexico. Most of the states are connecting with this programme. But, Naveen babu doesn’t understand”, Modi said addressing a massive public rally at Talcher.
“Shouldn’t Odisha avail the benefits of the scheme? Should not the Odisha government come forward and join the programme?, Modi questioned to a rapturous crowd.
“If Odisha doesn’t come forward and join the scheme, I cannot serve you”, Modi said, exhorting the chief minister Naveen Patnaik to join the programme.
Explaining the benefits of the scheme, Modi went on to say that Ayushman Bharat offers a guaranteed health assurance cover of Rs five lakh to each of the beneficiary families. The beneficiaries can avail treatment across the country, he asserted.
Taking a dig at Odisha’s woeful health infrastructure, the Prime Minister said, “I’m acutely aware of the status of health care infrastructure here. If Odisha connects with Ayushman Bharat, wellness centres can spring up at major panchayats in the state”.
Earlier, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government had rebuffed the central health insurance scheme. Instead, the state government has launched its own version- Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana on August 15. The local government had plausibly argued that its scheme bettered the Centre’s since 70 lakh families were brought under the ambit as opposed to 61 lakh considered by the Government of India.
Dwelling on the healthcare infrastructure, Modi said, his government was committed to setting up of five new medical colleges in Odisha at Balasore, Baripada, Bolangir, Koraput and Puri. His government has also pledged Rs 570 crore for upgradation of the SAIL run hospital at Rourkela.
“Work is going on to build super speciality hospitals at Talcher and Sundargarh. We are also involved in the modernisation work of existing medical colleges at Cuttack, Berhampur and Burla”, he said, invoking chants of Jai Jagannath (Lord of the Cosmos) and Jai Hingula Maa (the presiding deity of Talcher).
With elections nearing, Modi ripped into the BJD’s defence, launching a scathing attack on the subsidised yet hugely popular Rs one kg rice programme in Odisha. He alleged the Naveen government was cornering all credit for this scheme overwhelmingly bankrolled by the central government.
“Our government is providing Rs 25-30 per kg which the poor in Odisha avail at Rs one per kg. Every month, the Centre is providing Rs 450 crore to the Odisha government to run this scheme. But people are unaware of the Centre’s largesse as the state government passes off the scheme as its own”, the Prime Minister said.
At a separate function, Modi launched the commencement of work on revival of work on the Talcher fertiliser plant facing shut down since 1999. He said, Rs 13,000 crore has been deployed to start work on the plant powered by coal gasification technology that seeks to cut dependence on imports and thus, prune costs. Modi castigated the previous governments for their failure to revive the sick fertiliser projects. “They made only vacuous political promises. There was no sincere effort to restart operations at these ailing units. Once the BJP led government wrested power at the Centre, work on their revival commenced in right earnest”, he said.
Modi exuded confidence that the plant will be operational once again in 36 months and he will personally visit the spot to dedicate the project to the nation.
The previously ailing state run fertiliser unit is being revived by Talcher Fertilizers Ltd, a special purpose vehicle forged by four central PSEs- GAIL (India) Ltd, Coal India Ltd, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilisers Ltd (RCF) and Fertiliser Corporation of India Ltd (FCI).