No free travel coupons for cancer patients in Punjab for a year

The majority of civil hospitals in the state have run out of the free travel coupons to be disbursed among the beneficiaries

punjab Updated: Jul 25, 2018 20:15 IST
Parampreet Singh Narula
Parampreet Singh Narula
Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
Cancer patients,Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research,PGIMER
The previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government had in 2011 supplied ₹1, ₹10 and ₹20 coupons in bulk to all the civil hospitals.(HT Photo)

Cancer patients in Punjab entitled to get free travel facility in the state roadways buses have to shell out money from their pocket on bus fare to visit the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, for treatment.

The reason: The majority of civil hospitals in the state have run out of the free travel coupons to be disbursed among the beneficiaries.

The previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government had in 2011 announced to provide free travel facility to cancer patients under the Mukh Mantri Punjab Cancer Raahat Kosh Scheme.

The government that year had supplied ₹1, ₹10 and ₹20 coupons in bulk to all the civil hospitals. The coupons are valid only in Punjab Roadways or PRTC buses.

Dr Kuldeep Rai, SBS Nagar district health officer (DHO)-cum-nodal officer cancer control cell, said many cancer patients, most of them labourers, are not able to continue with their treatment at the PGIMER as they cannot afford travel expenses.

“One visit to Chandigarh costs a patient at least ₹700 to ₹800, including attendant’s fare and food,” he said.

Dr Manjit Singh, nodal officer, cancer wing at the Ludhiana civil hospital, said after they disbursed all the travel coupons two years back, they had started issuing concession passes—cancer certificates countersigned by the civil surgeon— to accommodate the beneficiaries which allow them to travel in government buses free of cost.

An official at the Jalandhar civil hospital said they had received travel coupons worth ₹11 lakh when the scheme was started. “The coupons got exhausted in November 2016. As more patients would approach us for free travel coupons, the authorities asked us to bring coupons from the Ropar civil hospital which had surplus coupons. But they also got exhausted in just two months,” he said.

Officials at the civil hospitals in Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Moga and Patiala said they too have run out of free travel coupons.

As per data on the state government’s website, as many as 8,799 beneficiaries are registered under the Mukh Mantri Punjab Cancer Raahat Kosh Scheme till December 29, 2017, while 3,089 people were registered from January 1 to May 11 this year.

TP Singh Sandhu, assistant health officer at the Jalandhar civil hospital, said the matter is in the notice of the authorities and they have been sending them reminders.

Satish Chandra, additional chief secretary (health and family welfare), said he is not aware of the matter but will look into it.

First Published: Jul 25, 2018 20:03 IST