The Punjab health department has decided to ignore the union health department's apparent threat to stop all funds pertaining to the 108 ambulance service in case Punjab did not remove chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's photographs from the ambulances.
The National Rural Health Mission had recently told the state government to immediately remove the CM's photo in order to claim the annual funds of Rs. 3.5 crore for the maintenance of ambulances across the state.
Terming it a "hollow" warning, state health minister Madan Mohan Mittal said the Centre had been unnecessarily exaggerating on the issue and that the demand was illogical.
"The CM's photo will not be removed from the ambulances at any cost," Mittal said, adding, "Their demand was useless and could not be met."
Mital, who was in Sangrur on Tuesday, to attend a meeting of the Aggarwal community, said the NRHM, which was working at the behest of the Centre, uselessly communicated to the state health authorities to remove the CM's photo to avail funds under the scheme.
"Instead of giving such futile warnings and focusing on trivial issues, the union government should come up with fresh ideas to improve health facilities in the state," Mittal said.
He said the central authorities should stop dictating the state over such issues. "The Centre has been in the habit of passing such diktats as they had earlier issued such statements for no reasons," he said.
Attacking union minister of state for health and family welfare Santosh Chaudhary, Mittal said there were many other issues on which the Centre could work on, but she had stuck to petty politics over the photograph. "Chaudhary is not entitled to issue instructions to remove the CM's photo. The state government will not pay heed to such threats and directions, while ambulance carrying the CM's photos will continue providing health services in the state," he said.
"The Centre is insecure and intends to scuttle the ambulance service after its successful execution in Punjab."