In a new twist to the Centre’s objections to the use of “Samajwadi Swasthya Seva” on the 108-ambulance service, the state government has asserted that the service will not be renamed. It is, however, open to the idea of naming the proposed 102-ambulance service as the ‘national ambulance service’. “We are open to the idea of naming the 102-ambulance service for mother and child care as the national ambulance service,” said principal secretary (medical and health) Pravir Kumar.
About the Centre’s objections to the naming of 108 service, Kumar said, “We have already sent a letter informing the union government about the state government’s point of view on the issue.”
With the state government rejecting the Centre’s objections, the ongoing war of words between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress is likely to intensify over the issue in days to come. Sources said the state government had informed the Centre that the decision to name the 108 service as the Samajwadi Swasthya Seva was in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution of India.
The state government has quoted the preamble to the constitution -- “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic” --to drive home its point that naming the service as “Samajwadi” was in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution of India. The state government has also pointed out that the Centre was only providing a large chunk of the capital costs only in 85:15 ratio.
“The state government will have to spend a large chunk of funds in running the ambulances. This will bring the state government’s share to nearly 75% in the next five to seven years,” said a senior officer of medical and health department.
About the Centre’s objections to the name of the service, the state government has pointed out that there were no instructions whatsoever from the Centre when the state government launched the service on September 14, 2012.
“We received the Centre’s objections and instructions much after the launch of the service. We have informed the union government that the 108-ambulance service has become popular as the Samajwadi Swasthya Seva. So it cannot be renamed with retrospective effect. We are already using the logo of the national rural health mission (NRHM),” said the officer, adding there was no question of the Centre withholding the NRHM funds. A meeting of the board of governors of the NRHM was held in Lucknow on Monday to discuss various issues. Senior officers informed the board that the state government had already made its point clear to the Centre on the issue.
About reports that the Centre had refused to release NRHM funds following the state government’s reluctance to rename the ambulance service, Kumar said the Centre had approved a budget of Rs. 4,500 crore. The state government had already received a sum of Rs. 3000 crore of this amount by now, he said, adding, the remaining amount would be released after the Centre received the state government’s projects.