Netas hijack UP health scheme

Control appointments, grab tenders

The National Rural Health Mission aimed at strengthening the almost non-existent health services in the rural areas has become a political battleground in Uttar Pradesh.

The mafia-turned-politicians, especially those from the ruling party, have been trying to ‘hijack’ the scheme by controlling the appointments and grabbing lucrative tenders.

The politicians, including ministers and legislators, have been terrorising health officials in the districts in a bid to force them to appoint doctors and paramedics in the NRHM recommended by them.

In many cases, the senior district health officials had to either put the appointment process on hold or they simply fled from their respective districts to save themselves from the wrath of powerful politicians.

So when the ‘sacked’ UP minister of state for revenue and rehabilitation Vinod Singh alias Pandit Singh, who has a criminal past, abducted the chief medical officer (CMO) of Gonda and two other babus, the health officials were not surprised at all.

The minister had exerted pressure on them to change the list of selected candidates.

“There was nothing new in it. We have been facing such threats in almost every district,” said a senior doctor in the UP health services.

“The ministers and legislators give their own list to the CMOs and insist upon the appointment of their people. A refusal may prove costly. The CMOs are threatened and in some cases they are either transferred or an inquiry is ordered against them,” an official said.

The Gonda incident comes at a time when the recruitment process under the scheme was already underway and interviews were being conducted in various districts.

In some districts, the process had been completed also. Now the government, apparently under the pressure of ministers and MLAs, has put the appointments on hold and is mulling a thorough probe.

The scheme which witnessed a massive scam to the tune of around Rs 5,000 crore in the state has claimed several lives also. As many as six health officials, including two CMOs, all connected with the NRHM, have either been killed or died under mysterious circumstances.

Former UP chief minister Mayawati had sacked the then health minister Anant Mishra and family welfare minister Babu Singh Kushwaha in the wake of the deaths.

The scheme was launched in 2005. The funds were to be used to construct health centres and ensure they were stocked with medicines and working equipment.
The Allahabad High Court had directed the CBI to inquire into the scam. It has arrested eight people in this connection.

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