The Centres National Health Authority (NHA) – has allocated the maximum funds to Gujarat as Grant-in-Aid for various government schemes under the ‘Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, as per the latest details provided in RTI replies.
The RTI query was filed by Pune-based activist Prafful Sarda seeking details of the budget allocated to the overall health sector including the flagship AB-PMJAY.
The NHA's replies were startling -- for the current year 2021-2022 (till July 17, 2021) -- it said the Centre has released a staggering Rs 330.55 crore as Grant-in-Aid (GIA) for Implementation Purpose to Gujarat - or the lion's share.
The next on the list is Kerala at Rs 128.62 crore, Maharashtra with Rs 117.43 crore, Andhra Pradesh got Rs 110.95 crore and Madhya Pradesh secured Rs 104.79 crore as GIA.
Among the double-digit states under GIA, Uttar Pradesh was given Rs 75.07 crore, Assam Rs 31.62 crore, Haryana Rs25.16 crore, Punjab Rs 23.07 crore, Uttarakhand Rs 21.81 crore, Jammu & Kashmir Rs 19.87 crore and Himachal Pradesh Rs 15.09 crore.
Seven states -- Jharkhand, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Chandigarh and Meghalaya -- were given GIA of less than Rs 10 crore.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Puducherry got less than one crore rupees, while Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattigarh, Daman & Diu, Goa, Karnataka, Ladakh, Lakshadweep Isles, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu did not get a single rupee under GIA.
He said that the NHA's official data reveals how -- compared with 2019-2020 (Rs 2,992.94-crore) - the health budget fell steeply for 2020-2021 (Rs.2544.12-crore), when it was required to be enhanced substantially.
"Covid-19 entered India last year (2020) and quickly spread… So, huge funds were required for to save peoples' lives, especially in worst-hit states like Maharashtra and Kerala, but the Centre appeared to focus only on Gujarat…" said Sarda.
Moreover, the activist rued that the RTI reply by NHA's Director & CPIO Pankaj Kumar Arora sheds no light on what exactly is the ‘Grant-in-Aid For Implementation Purpose'.
"What is the basis for the allocation of these critical funds to different states, especially considering the Covid situation in which Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in terms of total cases and fatalities, but it is always Gujarat is the ‘Most Favoured State' for the Centre," Sarda pointed out.
Besides, he referred to past instances indicating the PM's home state has remained at the forefront as far as health-related funds are concerned and it got the highest even during the entire Covid pandemic.
In April, senior Congress leader and ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan had cited official statistics showing how Gujarat – from where besides the PM, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and now the current Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, hail – got the most number of Covid-19 vaccines, N95-masks, PPE Kits, Ventilators, medicines, injections, etc.
Sarda said from the data released under RTI, many questions are left unanswered, but hoped that – like in the past – the department would not come out with new figures to overturn its own RTI replies.
Till date, Gujarat has recorded Covid-19 case 824,683 and deaths 10,076 – when tallied with other states having 7-digit total infections, like Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Karnataka, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
Sitting on the threshold of a possible Covid-19 ‘third wave', Maharashtra's progressive tally of Covid-19 cases is 62,58,079, 131,429 deaths, and currently 93,479 'active cases'- all highest in the country, and notched a vaccination figure of 4,13,19,105 till date, top in India.