The Rs.310 crore per annum group medical insurance scheme for its employees and pensioners rolled out by the J&K government has triggered a controversy as the employee organisations and political parties were accusing the government of having shun transparency while tying the scheme with Anil Ambani’s Reliance General Insurance Company.

The state government has made the scheme mandatory for its more than 3.50 lakh employees and had announced that it will come into force on 1 October. However, complaints have started pouring about poor implementation of the scheme. The scheme is optional for pensioners and media persons.

The exercise to select some trustworthy medical insurance company for this purpose was started when NN Vohra was Governor of the state, but it was shelved because of poor response. However, the first thing that Satyapal Malik did after taking over reins of the administration from Vohra was to award the contract to Ambani’s insurance company, alleged an employee leader.

The state government has dismissed the allegations of favouritism and has claimed that “The entire bidding process has been done in a competitive, clean and transparent manner in line with the financial rules and regulations as well as CVC (Chief Vigilance Commissioner) guidelines.”

Employees joint action committee leader, Abdul Qayoom, alleged that transparency was not maintained while awarding the contract to Ambani’s company. Why have been the government employees compulsorily been tagged with a private insurance company by stopping their monthly medical allowance, asked another employee.

Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, also took the opportunity to target the government when he tweeted that about 4 lakh J&K government employees will be “arm twisted” into buying the health insurance from Ambani’s company.

Meanwhile, the state government has tried to set the record straight by claiming that the scheme has been implemented after following all the required procedures in a fair and most transparent manner.”

A spokesman of the government said that the bidding process was monitored by a team of senior-most officers, well versed with the financial rules and regulations, and was conducted through strict technical and financial evaluation. “In the first round of bidding only one bid was submitted by a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) and as the first round concluded with poor response it had to be terminated.”

Thereafter, the spokesman said, that all PSUs, as well as top private insurance companies, were contacted to participate in the bidding process as a result of which, 9 companies including Private and PSUs submitted their bids, out of which 5 qualified on technical evaluation criteria.

The financial bid of 5 qualified companies were opened and it emerged that Reliance General Insurance Company quoted lowest premium of Rs 8776.84, National Insurance Company Ltd quoted premium of Rs 11918.00, ICICI Lombard quoted Rs 17691.74, Bajaj Allianz quoted premium of Rs 23476.10 and United India Assurance Company quoted.