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Mamata shoots off letter to Centre on central schemes

Mamata clears air over the implementation of the much-publicised health and farmers’ schemes

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to the Centre over the implementation of the much-publicised health and farmers’ schemes ~ Ayushman Bharat and PM Kisan Samman Nidhi ~ in Bengal through the state government machinery.

In an apparent response to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s letter to Miss Banerjee on non-implementation of the farmers’ scheme in the state, the government today publicised two letters written by Miss Banerjee on 9 September to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan and Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar asking for implementing the respective schemes in the state on its official Egiye Bangla Twitter page.

In both the letters, Miss Banerjee categorically mentioned that the state government has already introduced its own schemes for providing assistance and clarified that the schemes can be extended with the entire funding being routed through the state government.

Miss Banerjee wrote that “on different occasions, it is heard that state government in Bengal is not implementing” the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme and Ayushman Bharat scheme launched by the Central government and stated that much before the Central schemes were launched state government had introduced 100 per cent free treatment, medicines and diagnostics for all in all government hospital and launched the Swasthya Sathi scheme as well as introduced the Krishak Bandhu scheme to provide assistance to farmers including sharecroppers.

“We will be happy to provide benefits to the farmers under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme and in that case, the Central government may transfer the requisite fund directly to the state government for further disbursement with full responsibility, to the beneficiaries, through the state government machinery,” wrote Miss Banerjee in the letter to Mr Tomar.

Elaborating on the state sponsored Krishak Bandhu scheme, Miss Banerjee wrote that farmers with very small holdings also get benefit under the scheme. Under this scheme, every farmer/ sharecropper receives Rs 500 from the government. The scheme also envisages the death benefit of Rs 2 lakh in case of the unfortunate death of any farmer in the age group of 18 to 60. More than 73 lakh farmers are being covered under the scheme in Bengal. The state government provides comprehensive crop insurance facilities to farmers where the entire insurance premium is borne by the state government and is completely free for the farmers. There are multiple other schemes/ benefits extended to the farmers in Bengal, she wrote.

“So you can understand that the state government has provided adequate assistance to the farming community of Bengal and for this, we have to spend a huge amount of funds every year from the state budget,” her letter read.

Earlier, Mr Dhankhar, who had been at loggerheads with the state government on a host of issues, had criticised Miss Banerjee for opposing farm sector reform bills and urged her to implement the PMKisan Samman Nidhi scheme in the state.

In her letter to Dr Vardhan, Miss Banerjee gave a detailed account of the benefits provided under the state-sponsored Swasthya Sathi health scheme, which was introduced in 2016 and covers 7.5 crore people, provides Rs 5 lakh per annum per family for secondary and tertiary health cover.

Earlier, the state government had pulled out of the Central scheme and Miss Banerjee had told in June that in Ayushman Bharat, the Centre gives only 40 per cent and takes the whole credit while Swasthya Sathi provides 100 per cent help to people