Economic survey: State ignores health care, education

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 18, 2016 00:43 IST
The spending on the flagship Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Arogya Yojna, which facilitates cashless medical treatments, has seen a significant dip (FILE)

A closer look at the statistics laid out in the state’s economic survey 2015-16 reflects how the state government may have cut its spending on crucial schemes revolving around education and health care. Amongst those affected by the decision include tribal women in some of the most underdeveloped parts of the state, to expectant mothers to newborns and the girl child.

The survey presents a grim picture of how a state, already underspending on crucial social sectors, has cut down its budgets further, resulting in shrinking of both in the number of beneficiaries as well as the money finally spent.

For instance, the flagship Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Arogya Yojna, which facilitates cashless medical treatments, has seen a significant dip. From incurring an expenditure of Rs661 crore last year, the total amount this year is around Rs620 crore. Similarly, the budget for the Reproductive and Child Health Programme (CHP-II), a key progamme meant to reduce infant and maternal mortality as well as better fertility, shrank from Rs655 crore to Rs620 crore. In its implementation, it had shrunk even further, and till December, only 44 per cent of the fund was spent.

Similar is the case with Matrutva Anudan Yojana (MAY), a scheme where tribal pregnant women are paid Rs400 in cash whenever they visit health centres. This scheme was designed to incentivise antenatal health care. From having an outlay of Rs5.63 crore in 2014-15, the government slashed the outlay by Rs2 crore. Till December, it had only benefitted 11,000-odd mothers, against previous years, when the number had crossed 60,000 by the end of March.

This shrinking of the budget is accompanied by the pulling out of the Central support to many of these critical schemes. For instance, the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), which, till 2014-15 was nearly Rs300 crore has been cut down to Rs283 crore.

Moreover, the state has not added a single health facility in the last one year.

Even the education sector saw a dip in outlays and expenditure. For instance, the attendance allowance scheme, one of the many schemes meant to encourage the girl child, has seen a 20 per cent cut in its budget. This had a direct impact -- the number of classrooms being built each year went down, there were no new computer laboratories built this year from 129 last year and a massive dip in the students who received free text books, from 1.33 crore in 2012-13 to 1.23 crore in 2014-15.

Dr Deepak Sawant, state health minister, was not available for comment despite HT’s efforts. However, an official in the state finance department, said some of these cuts were a part of ‘rationalising’ the state’s spending, given its tight financial situation. “We have left it to the departments to decide their priorities. Often, they withdraw support if they feel a scheme isn’t working well.”

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