Harsh Dev Singh NPP Chairman has expressed his dismay over the direct announcements of opening of new health centers and primary Health centers in various villages and in certain selected constituencies by the Union Minister for Health Mr. Gulam Nabi Azad. He was referring to the statements of Mr. G N Azad made in Ukhral wherein the latter had announced to open 22 health centers in Banihal. He maintained that as per the prevalent policy and established conventions, the central govt. releases funds in favour of the state govt. and it is the state govt. which identifies the priority areas for funds utilization as per prescribed norms and procedures. He said that the decisions for utilization of central funds and centrally sponsored schemes are taken by the state Assembly and in the District Development Boards as per the procedures in vogue. He said that there is a proper evaluation and assessment of the demands raised by members / legislators, survey of the concerned areas preparation of estimates and formulation of plans and proposals which are ultimately deliberated upon in Assembly and DDBs before formal approvals. He said that in the present case not only had the prevalent procedures been violated with impunity but the state govt. too had been bypassed in the process with the Union Minister going direct to the people and making announcements at the village and Block level.
Lambasting the newly devised modus operandi for the establishment of new health centers, Mr. Singh questioned as to whether the same practice was being followed by the Union govt. in other states of the country. He said that principles of accountability, fair play and transparency demanded that a rational criteria was adopted by the helmsmen for release of funds out of public exchequer having due regard to established norms. He said that in the present case the Union Minister had announced doles for particular area without taking the state govt. into confidence and without considering deserving areas. He said that though it was good to announce provision of health centers to Banihal which is otherwise a highly backward and remote constituency but the stipulated norms and procedures ought to have been followed. He termed the announcements as not only procedurally incorrect but also violative of the principles of Accountability and good governance.Mr. Harsh Dev Singh further urged upon the Union and State govt. to evaluate the demands raised from various other villages of the state for establishment of new health centers and examine their feasibility in the light of prescribed norms at the earliest. He regretted that no new health centers or PHCs had been opened in the state during the last about eight years despite repeated demands of deserving areas. He regretted that bonafide and genuine claims of the most deserving areas had been disregarded and overlooked and announcements were being made purely on political considerations. He called upon the state govt. to assert and to ensure that justice was done to the deserving areas. He further ridiculed the state govt. for its week and submissive approach and for failing to resist on scores of like occasions and in identical situations. He said the NC led govt. was contented merely by sharing the loaves and fishes of power with Congress despite latter’s highly commanding central leadership.
Mr. Harsh Dev Singh further expressed grave concern over the deteriorating health care system in the state and apathy of the state govt. to stem the rot. Expressing grave concern over the acute deficiency of doctors and Para medical staff in the state, he said the rural areas were the ultimate causality in the process. He rapped the coalition govt. for its failure to make the Super Specialty Hospital Jammu functional despite claims of its upgradation to AIIMS level. He deplored that though the building was constructed, the much needed faculty and allied infrastructure were conspicuously missing. He further deplored that 80% of the existing health centers in villages were run in rented or Kacha houses and the state govt. had failed to get the “Health Infrastructure Development Fund” (HIDF) sanctioned from GOI despite having a Union Health Minister from state itself. He claimed that the said HIDF which was prepared at a cost of Rs. 2600 crore for provision of accommodation for various buildingless health institutions in the state and processed in 2005 had not made any breakthrough with the state govt. watching as a mute spectator after its submission to GOI. He further decried the acute shortage of essential life saving drugs and medical equipments particularly in the remote and far flung areas of the state.