Stalemate between Army, Air Force hurting health care for veterans

  • Col Avnish Sharma (retd), None
  • Updated: Mar 15, 2015 08:48 IST

The Army and the Air force have always demonstrated seamless cooperation during active operations, resulting in meting out a crushing defeat to the enemy. We remember the joint operations conducted by these two premier services in 1971 and the Kargil war.

Similarly, during the internal security matters, and natural calamities like the latest catastrophe in Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir, both of these services displayed maturity towards accomplishing the task at hand.

Sadly, the turf wars, inter-service rivalry and perceived sense of superiority have led to ‘digging of heels’.

This has had an adverse impact on the bonhomie between the two services, thus benefitting the anti-services stance of the bureaucracy that constantly is in a lookout for an opportunity to bring down the status of the Armed forces.

Some face offs like the formation of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), operational control over attack helicopters, clamour for credit and glory for Laungewala battle of 1971 can be quoted since they are now in the public domain.

Sec 47 ECHS polyclinic in state of neglect

The latest face off, sadly, has affected the military veterans at large. The ex-servicemen contributory health scheme (ECHS) was launched by the government more than a decade back to provide quality health care to its military veterans.

The scheme had since then matured into numerous polyclinics, country wide. The polyclinic in Chandigarh, which has on its rolls a large number of retired soldiers, has been jinxed right from the beginning.

Having , started its operations from an ad-hoc premises in Sector 11, it was moved to another ad-hoc location in Sector 29, and at present, it is functioning from the residential quarters of separated families of the defence personnel.

The premises, obviously, has grave shortcomings with regard to infrastructure and ancillaries, besides impinging on the existing shortfall in married accommodation for soldiers. In its initiative, HQ Western Command had constructed a polyclinic in Sector 47 on the existing defence land under the administrative control of the Air Force station, Chandigarh.

The building was completed two years back, but the ECHS polyclinic could not be shifted since the Air Force refused to part with adjoining piece of land planned for parking of vehicles. As a result, the municipal corporation (MC) declined approval for providing water, electricity and sewerage facilities, terming the premises inadequate for occupation without dedicated parking.
The matter since then has turned into a stalemate between the Army and Air Force, both engaged in turf wars with thousands of military veterans and their families clearly at the receiving end.

Thus, the newly constructed polyclinic is in state of ruins — an utter wastage of crores of public money.

The privileged military veterans and their dependents belonging to the City Beautiful are being subjected to ad-hocism in the health care with the olive greens and blues at loggerheads, unfortunately both axing their own feet in the bargain.

(The writer is a member of Zila Sainik Board, Chandigarh. Views expressed are personal)

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