Mumbai: The data revealed in response to an RTI enquiry has pointed out that the Centre's National Health Authority (NHA) – has allocated the maximum funds to Gujarat as Grant-in-Aid for various government schemes under the 'Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY).
The RTI query was filed by Pune-based activist Prafful Sarda seeking details of the budget allocated to the overall health sector including the flagship AB-PMJAY.
Sarda in his RTI had questioned the basis for the allocation of these critical funds to different states, especially considering the Covid situation and pointed out that although Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in terms of total cases and fatalities, it is always Gujarat that is the 'Most Favoured State' for the Centre."
The NHA's replies were startling -- for the current year 2021-2022 (till July 17, 2021). It said the Centre has released a staggering Rs 330.55 crore as Grant-in-Aid (GIA) for Implementation Purpose to Gujarat - or the lion's share.
The next on the list is Kerala at Rs 128.62 crore, Maharashtra with Rs 117.43 crore, Andhra Pradesh Rs 110.95 crore and Madhya Pradesh Rs 104.79 crore as GIA.
Among the double-digit states under GIA, Uttar Pradesh has been given Rs 75.07 crore, Assam Rs 31.62 crore, Haryana Rs25.16 crore, Punjab Rs 23.07 crore, Uttarakhand Rs 21.81 crore, Jammu & Kashmir Rs 19.87 crore and Himachal Pradesh Rs 15.09 crore.
Seven states -- Jharkhand, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Chandigarh and Meghalaya -- were given GIA of less than Rs 10 crore.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Puducherry got less than one crore rupees, while Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Daman & Diu, Goa, Karnataka, Ladakh, Lakshadweep Isles, Rajasthan, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu did not get a single rupee under GIA.
He said that the NHA's official data reveals how -- compared with 2019-2020 (Rs 2,992.94-crore) - the health budget fell steeply for 2020-2021 (Rs.2544.12-crore) when it was required to be enhanced substantially.
"Covid-19 entered India last year (2020) and quickly spread. So, huge funds were required to save peoples' lives, especially in worst-hit states like Maharashtra and Kerala, but the Centre appeared to focus only on Gujarat…" said Sarda.
Moreover, the activist rued that the RTI reply by NHA's Director & CPIO Pankaj Kumar Arora sheds no light on what exactly is the 'Grant-in-Aid For Implementation Purpose'.
"In April, senior Congress leader and ex-CM Prithviraj Chavan had cited official statistics showing how Gujarat – from where besides the PM, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and now the current Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, hail – got the most number of Covid-19 vaccines, N95-masks, PPE Kits, Ventilators, medicines, injections, etc.
Sarda said from the data released under RTI, many questions are left unanswered, but hoped that – like in the past – the department would not come out with new figures to overturn its own RTI replies.