- The Bengal government’s Duare Sarkar program operational to avoid overcrowding at camps set up for the purpose.
- “People, particularly senior citizens, were getting impatient in the queue. We recognized the problem and decided to spare them the trouble by delivering the forms home,” Dasgupta said.
THD NewsDesk, Kolkata: The Bengal government’s Duare Sarkar program — including Swasthya Sathi, the state’s universal health coverage scheme — is set to go door-to-door, to avoid overcrowding at camps set up for the purpose.
Following up on the concern that the people’s response to the program has led to longer than ever queues at the neighborhood camps, which can potentially lead to a splurge in Covid-19 cases. The government announced alternative methods to reach out to people on Monday. It included the delivery of forms at home and even downloading them from the government’s Egiye Bangla portal.
Since the Duare Sarkar program was launched last week, over 31 lakh people have queued up at the ward-level camps to avail themselves of the bouquet of 11 government benefit schemes. In the urban areas of Kolkata, Swasthya Sathi-offers a ‘family floater’ policy with annual coverage of up to Rs. 5 lakh has come to be immensely popular.
There have been efforts by the ward coordinators and civic officials to maintain Covid norms, the plan has been unsuccessful because of the number of people turning up.
Sources in the government said a plan was in the works to dispatch forms from local ward offices to homes in the ward so that people didn’t have to physically queue up. The government was also looking at setting up drop boxes for submitting filled-in forms, and even an online option.
Piyali Paul, a homemaker at Parnashree who queued up for four hours on Sunday, felt home delivery of forms would be a huge help. “It’s not just Covid. I feel excruciating pain if I stand for long. If the form is delivered home, we could fill it in and submit it,” she said.
In some wards, the outreach to citizens’ homes started on Thursday. According to Tapan Dasgupta, the borough X ward coordinator, given the rise in expectation of residents in large areas of Baghajatin, Pallisree, Golf Garden, Bijoygarh, Azadgargh, and other neighborhoods in Tollygunge, he had to deliver Swasthya Sathi forms door-to-door so that applicants could be handed over health insurance cards at KMC-organized camps held between Friday and Sunday.
“People, particularly senior citizens, were getting impatient in the queue. We recognized the problem and decided to spare them the trouble by delivering the forms home,” Dasgupta said.
Firhad Hakim, the chairperson of the Board of Administrators that administers KMC, traveled vast expanses of Chetla on Thursday dispensing Swasthya Sathi forms to families. Ward administrators have been also asked to accompany civic volunteers to remit Swasthya Sathi cards to homes.
The wellness card is being published in the title of the seniormost woman member of the household. Names of other members of the family are added as recipients. If the woman head of the family is an older citizen, another family member can attend the camp with copies of the Aadhaar card, voter card, and photo identity card.
Demand for Khadya Sathi (ration card) and other vital civic services, including mutation of properties, was also rising, said a KMC official.