Describing the twin
tasks of improving the pensionary and medical benefits for ex-servicemen
as ‘subjects of prime concern’ and ‘as an ongoing process’, the Defence
Minister Shri AK Antony today announced that the orders authorizing
payment to ex-servicemen and their families accruing from the recent
cabinet decisions, hiking pension and other benefits amounting to nearly
Rs.2300 crores per annum, would be issued next month.
Addressing a meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to his
Ministry, here, Shri Antony said this is the third time in the last four
years that the Government have systematically improved the
post-retirement benefits for ex-servicemen.
Outlining the slew of measures taken by the MoD for improving the health
care benefits of ex-servicemen, Shri Antony said the Government has been
trying to expand the delivery mechanism and simplify procedures so that
the ex-servicemen, who have given their best years of life for the
security of the nation, get the required medical benefits without
He said under the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), which
has been in operation since April 2003, 227 polyclinics were initially
approved by the Government. In 2010, another 199 polyclinics were
sanctioned by the Government out of which 99 polyclinics have become
functional and 100 polyclinics are under various stages of
operationalization. The scheme is presently been implemented to 326
functional polyclinics. At present, the scheme has over 41 lakh
beneficiaries including 13 lakh ex-servicemen and over 28 lakh
dependents. The reach and coverage of the scheme is evident from the
fact that in 2011-12, 90 lakh patients were attended to at the
polyclinics. Shri Antony expressed confidence that with the
commissioning of the remaining polyclinics the bulk of the ex-servicemen
population throughout the country would be covered by the scheme.
Shri Antony said there is still a long way to go as presently, ECHS
facilities are available only in 339 districts out of a total of 659 in
the country. The delivery of medicare at polyclinics is also hampered by
the shortage of staff and non-availability of the prescribed medicines.
Taking part in the discussion, the Members of Parliament urged the
Government to prepare a roadmap to ensure that medical facilities are
available to ex-servicemen in every district of the country. They also
called for greater transparency in the process. Some Members pointed out
that there is inordinate delay in settling the bills of private
hospitals which should be ameliorated through technological means.
Taking note of the rapid growth of healthcare facilities in the private
sector in recent years and the innovative steps taken by some
organizations and hospitals, the Members suggested that the Government
should adopt the best practices readily available outside the government
sector rather than handling the situation in a conservative fashion
which is neither efficient nor cost-effective.
Replying to some of the queries of the Members, the Minister of State
for Defence Shri Jitendra Singh said the government is veering towards a
‘dashboard approach’ so that the healthcare mechanisms can be monitored
online on a day-to-day basis by the administrators. He said the
government’s efforts will always be to put a smile on the face of the
ex-servicemen because they deserve it.
Members of Parliament who attended the meeting included Shri Navin
Jindal, Shri GajananDharmshi Babar, Shri SS Ramasubbu, Shri Gopal Singh
Shekhawat, Shri Suresh Kalmadi, Shri Harsh Vardhan, Shri Kailkesh N.
Singh Deo, Shri Sultan Ahmed, Shri Ram Chandra Khuntia, DrMahendra
Prasad, Shri Ishwarlal Jain, Smt. AmbikaSoni and Shri PiyushGoyal.
The Defence Secretary Shri Shashikant Sharma, Secretary Department of
Defence Production Shri RK Mathur, Secretary Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare
Shri Vijay Chibber, Secretary Defence Finance Smt. PritiMohantyand other
officials of the Ministry of Defence also attended the meeting.