Labour minister Janardan Singh Sigriwal on Sunday claimed that Bihar topped the country in providing smart cards to below poverty line (BPL) families. It reached out to 70 lakh families, 35 lakh more than Bengal — the state nearest to Bihar on this front.
Smart cards allow BPL families to avail free treatment at hospitals enlisted under the scheme. The upper limit of free treatment is Rs 30,000.
Sigriwal said the state government had left no stone unturned to provide smart cards to all BPL families. As many as 2.7 lakh families have received the smart cards in Saran.
The minister said he has urged the Centre to increase the limit of free treatment against smart cards to Rs 1 lakh. He has also demanded to extend the validity of the smart cards from one year to three years.
Under the scheme of free medical treatment, the labour minister said, all medical colleges and government hospitals have been attached. Appealing all the health hubs to behave politely with the smart card holders, the labour minister said the labour department would reward the hospitals with encouragement money.
There are around 1.45 crore BPL families in Bihar and 4,70,324 families in Saran. Of these BPL families, 26,000 live in the urban areas of the district.
While Rs 6.5 crore has been spent to provide smart cards to 2.7 lakh BPL families in Saran, work to cover the remaining families under the scheme would start from April 26, Sigriwal said at the news meet he addressed in Chhapra.
The decision to give BPL families, covered by the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, the cards was taken at a cabinet meeting last year.