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Karnataka Government to Roll Out New Health Scheme This Year

The Karnataka government will roll out the Arogya Karnataka health scheme that promises better healthcare for millions of households in full this year, Governor Vajubhai Vala told a joint session of the state legislature on Monday. Arogya Karnataka is among pledges made by the previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government that were emphasized by the governor in his address. “My government will roll out Arogya Karnataka fully in 2018. Health and wellness centers will be set up by upgrading the existing sub-centers to provide high quality comprehensive primary healthcare services,” Vala said in his first address to the 15th legislative assembly that convened on Monday. The governor’s address that was approved by the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular), or JD(S) state cabinet emphasized the importance of continuing with schemes of the earlier government, in which healthcare or “Arogya Bhagya” is one of the programs that will see no cuts in funding to facilitate a proposed farm loan waiver.

“One of the conditions to get Congress support for farm loan waiver was to ensure that no ‘Bhagya’ schemes would be impacted. The government was asked to raise funds from other sources and not cut grants to earlier programs,” said a person directly familiar with the developments. He requested not to be named. In August last year, the state cabinet approved a universal health coverage scheme aimed at providing free medical assistance to 14 million households costing ₹869.4 crore. The previous Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had announced a flurry of populist schemes such as Anna Bhagya (free rice) and Ksheera Bhagya (free milk for students) during its five-year tenure. In the run-up to the May assembly elections, JD(S) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had announced farm loan waivers while the Congress relied on its earlier announcement to waive off ₹8165 crore of crop loans to win the backing of the 40 million strong community.

A coordination and monitoring committee, set up to help with the smooth functioning of the coalition government on Sunday approved a common minimum program that includes an undeclared quantum of farm loan waiver. The committee, headed by Siddaramaiah, also announced that all flagship programs by the previous government would also be continued along with new schemes likely to be announced in the 5 July budget. Vala also said that the new government is committed to carrying out several projects in Bengaluru which include improving water distribution, reducing leakages and completing the 118-km Bengaluru metro rail by March 2021. – LiveMint