Bhopal: In a bid to remove the photo of former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan from the Sambal Yojana smartcards, the newly elected Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has ordered the replacing of 2.20 crore smartcards which is likely to cost the government exchequer a whopping Rs. 20 crore.
An order in this regard has been sent to all the district collectors in the first week of January, asking to replace all the previous smartcards with new cards. The new card will have no image and the benefits of Ayushman Bharat Scheme will be added on it.
“With the new smartcard, one can enjoy the benefits of Ayushman Bharat Scheme under which every deprived person will get health insurance of up to Rs. 5 lakh. The state government has planned to add the Ayushman Bharat with Sambal Yojana,” said Labour Minister Mahendra Singh Sisodiya.
According to a senior official of the Labour Department, a smartcard cost Rs. 10 in making and the replacing of 2.20 crore smartcards is likely to cost Rs. 22 crore.
Eyeing the voters from the deprived classes, the BJP government in April 2018 had launched an umbrella scheme – Sambal Yojana – and pitted eight schemes such as maternity allowance, accidental and natural death allowance, Electricity @200 and others under it, approving Rs. 800 crore for this scheme.
Subsequently, the State Labour Department had finalised a tender of Rs. 18 crore to make smartcard for the beneficiaries. From April 1, 2018 to November 5, 2018 (before the election code of conduct was imposed), the state government distributed 2.20 crore smartcards to the beneficiaries, according to the data available on the official website of the Sambal Yojana.
And since April 2018, Rs. 460 crore has been distributed to more than one crore people under various schemes.
Former CM Shivraj Singh expressed his displeasure while talking to the media on Wednesday. He said, “An attempt to remove my image from Sambal Yojana smartcards is unfair. Besides, the entire exercise will take too much time and money which is a total waste.”
He further said, “The government can remove my names from the government schemes but not from the beneficiaries’ hearts because I live there.”
In a reply to the former CM, the Labour Minister said, “The person has already been rejected by the voters. The intention behind replacing the card is to give benefits of Aayushman Bharat on the same card, not the former CM’s photo.”
However, the recently released loan waiver form by the Congress government carries the image of Kamal Nath.
Reacting over the issue, senior journalist LS Hardinia said, “In the last four or five years, the BJP government hardly spent Rs. 1 crore for the welfare of unorganised labourers and now the new government is spending Rs. 20 crore just to replace an identity card. It’s a waste of public money. The smartcards of government schemes should not have any image, it will save a lot of money.”