The emergency medical transport service ambulances purchased by the Mayawati government under NRHM without planning,and lying in the stockyard of Tata Motors for about two years were finally launched by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today.
The name of the service,Samajwadi Swastha Sewa,drew criticism from opposition parties. A government scheme was being used for political promotion of the ruling party,they alleged.
The Congress called it an unfortunate attempt to hijack the centrally funded scheme,while the BJP demanded that the government rename it immediately. The BSP said it was misuse of government funds for publicity for the ruling party.
Akhilesh flagged off 133 EMTS ambulances – which can be reached through the toll-free number 108 - at his residence. They will be equipped to handle primary care of emergency cases,and carry medicines and medical staff. A total of 988 ambulances were to be made available in the state under the National Rural Health Mission in 2010. The Mayawati government bought 799 ambulances,without planning for their operationalisation.
The chief minister said,We are aiming to launch the targeted number of ambulances across all blocks of the state by year-end,but the wrongs of the previous government will take time to amend. They made things complicated but we are trying to do things in a way that no one can raise fingers at us.
He did not say why the service had been named after the ruling party. Nor did Health Minister Ahmad Hassan who,too,targeted the previous government for misuse of NRHM funds.
The health minister said,It is a dream project of Mulayam Singh Yadav. No money will be charged for the service. We are targeting to reach the patient in 20 minutes. There have been corrupt practices in NRHM in the past but we are utilizing the funds with sincerity.
He also clarified,The funds are not donation by the central government but are the lawful share of the UP government in central taxes.
The Congress criticised the government for giving the scheme a Samajwadi name. State Congress president Nirmal Khatri said,It is unfortunate. There have been attempts by other states also to hijack the central government scheme,but this is the first time that any state has given name of a political party to a government scheme. Such actions of state governments spoil Centre-state relations. We oppose it and would also request the central government to intervene.
BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpai demanded that state government change the name immediately. We would not have objected if they had named it after any prominent personality of the Samajwadi movement,be it Lohia or Acharya Narendra Deo. But giving the partys name to a scheme and printing its publicity material in colours of the ruling party is equivalent to using government funds for party publicity, he said.
Leader of Opposition and BSP leader Swami Prasad Maurya said,It is misuse of power and politicisation of a health scheme. The present government has a track record of correcting its wrong decisions,we expect that they will be sensitive enough to realise their mistake and give the scheme a different name.
In all,the scheme will cover 13 districts including Etawah,Lucknow,Mainpuri,Kannauj,Saharanpur,Meerut,Rampur,Muzaffarnagar,Moradabad,Shamli,Sambhal,Baghpat and Ambedkarnagar.