Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: Union Minister Pratap Sarangi on Monday urged Odisha government to implement Centre's Ayushman Bharat health scheme at the earliest and announce financial assistance for priests and servitors in the State.

In a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Sarangi said he has been interacting with migrant labourers from Odisha stranded in different parts of the country (due to the nationwide lockdown) to provide them with all possible assistance in terms of food, ration, medicines and even hospitalization

"I have noticed that many migrant labourers, having critical ailments, are facing a great deal of financial difficulties in receiving requisite treatment outside the state as the Government of Odisha has not implemented the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana," said the senior BJP leader.

The Union Minister of State for MSME, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said that Ayushman Bharat has been the most significant state intervention under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several states are already getting benefits of the scheme.

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"Considering the current COVID-19 situation and its deleterious aftermath, I request you to kindly consider implementing the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana in the State at the earliest," he said.

Sarangi further urged Odisha government to announce financial assistance to priests/servitors of temples in the State so that they can meet the need of their families in the absence of offerings from devotees during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Recently, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration announced an incentive package of Rs 5000 to each servitor of the temple after OTV telecast about how the cash-starved servitors of Puri Srimandir are reeling under the lockdown enforced in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak in the country.

It is pertinent to mention here that the primary income of the servitors is donations that they receive from devotees. Initially, even though the servitors welcomed the decision to restrict the entry of devotees inside the Puri temple to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the extension of 21-day lockdown declared by the Centre till 3rd of May came as a blow for the community.

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