An open letter to Lt Governor, JKUT “Utilise CM-GMHIS 1st Instalment Amount for dealing with #COVID-19 emergency”

Suresh Singh Katoch
Esteemed Excellency,
With great reverence and expectation, I want to bring to your kind notice the following, for kind perusal of your Excellency and with a sanguine hope that an early and urgent action is initiated by the Union Territory administration under your able guidance and incontestable authority, keeping in view, the present health emergency situation especially arising out of the outbreak of pandemic nCOV (Corona Virus) or COVID-19 in the country:
Whereas, the then Government of J&K rolled out Chief Minister’s Group Mediclaim Health Insurance Scheme (CM-GMHIS) in the entire erstwhile state (now UT of J&K & UT of Ladakh) with effect from October 1, 2018 which made it mandatory for employees to buy health insurance from Reliance General Health Insurance Company Limited;
Whereas, while giving details of the Scheme, the then Principal Secretary, Finance, Naveen K. Choudhary said, “the Scheme is mandatory for the Government employees (gazetted/non-gazetted), including employees of the PSUs, Autonomous Bodies & Universities, while it will be optional for Pensioners, AIS Officers, Adhoc, Contractuals, DRWs, Work charged and Contract Paid Workers and Accredited Journalists. The Policy Document issued by the Finance Department claimed that the target group of the policy was more than 3.5 Lacs employees/ pensioners consisting of the aforementioned group of employees/pensioners and covered medical treatment for some 41 number of ailments besides maternity benefits to the women;”
Whereas, the Scheme which came into effect from October 1, 2018, initially for a period of one year and extendable annually for three years, based on satisfactory performance of the insurer. It was claimed that the Policy had been tied up with Reliance General Insurance Company Ltd on annual premium of Rs. 8777 and Rs. 22,229 for employees and pensioners respectively. The Policy was to provide the health insurance of up to Rs. six (6) Lacs per employee and pensioner per annum along with his her five (5) dependent family members on floater basis. The Health Insurance Cards having Unique Identification Number were to be issued by the Insurer to the Beneficiary Family Unit, for utilization of the Cover available to such Beneficiary Family Unit on Cashless basis. The Card was to be acceptable across the Country, by all Empanelled/Network Hospitals/Nursing Homes/Day Care Clinics in the Insurer’s panel;
Whereas, the annual premium for the insurance cover of Rs. 8777 was to be deducted from employees’ Salaries in four (4) quarterly instalments of Rs. 1295 on October 1, January 15, April 15 and the last instalment of Rs. 1292 on July 1, each year. The then Governor’s administration had ordered deduction of 1st instalment of Rs.1295 from every Govt. employees’ salary. Accordingly, as ordered, the respective HODs/DDOs deducted the said amount from salaries of the employees working under their administrative control;
Whereas, later, on October 27, 2018, the then Governor Satyapal Malik ordered the foreclosure of the contract with Reliance General Insurance for implementing the GMHIS for state employees and asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe the matter terming the policy as, “full of fraud” & erroneously implemented.
However, after the policy was scrapped, astonishingly, neither the employees/pensioners got any Insurance Cover nor was the amount of deducted money reimbursed. The Government rather kept mum over the fate of the already deducted 1st instalment amount from the hard earned salaries reminding us (employees/pensioners) of an old Urdu adage which goes like, “Na Khuda mila na visal-e-sanam….na idhar ke rahe na udhar ke!” Unfortunately, even the employees kept mum over the fate of their personal money deducted from their salaries. The same numbness on the part of employees as well as the Government due to the one reason or the other continues since last 17 months resulting in the huge employees’ money (in Crores) being parked either in Government Treasuries or went in to pockets of the “authorities” (sic).
However, now, as the entire Country is under 21-day Lockdown as announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi w.e.f: March, 25 to April 14, 2020, courtesy: nCOV (Corona Virus) also K/as COVID-19 outbreak, the entire demand and supply chain of the day to day use commodities including groceries has got effected due to which the general public especially the poor lot has been hit very hard. The emerging extra-ordinary health emergency and the economic breakdown in the entire country in general and the UTs of J&K and Ladakh in particular demands huge amounts of donations on compassionate grounds to be made by each one of us for the cure n care of the vulnerable sections of society in general and Corona effected and probable patients in particular.
As such, I on behalf of the employees/pensioners reverentially request your Excellency either to order reimbursement of the deducted amount along with interest into the salary/ pension accounts of respective employees/pensioners so that the same may be contributed/ donated by the employees/pensioners as per their desires and capabilities for utilisation on welfare of the downtrodden and vulnerable sections of the society or alternatively, the same may be ordered by your Excellency to be utilised for tackling with health emergency under proper receipt/intimation to the employees/pensioners concerned. Who knows, a little intervention on your part, may save hundreds and thousands of lives of the vulnerable lot among us.
Hoping for an early intervention!