Rajasthan to use MLA fund for vaccination

The Gehlot govt. has increased the fund from ₹2.25 crore to ₹5 crore a year

Published - May 11, 2021 11:25 pm IST - JAIPUR

Beneficiaries stand in a queue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine dose at a government hospital in Bikaner on Tuesday.

Beneficiaries stand in a queue to receive the COVID-19 vaccine dose at a government hospital in Bikaner on Tuesday.

As part of the efforts to mobilise financial resources for COVID-19 vaccination of people in the age group of 18 to 44 years, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has approved a proposal to provide ₹3 crore each from the MLA Local Area Development (LAD) Fund. For meeting the expenses, the fund for each legislator has been increased from ₹2.25 crore to ₹5 crore a year.

The 200 MLAs in the State will contribute a total of ₹600 crore to the vaccination fund account under the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Mr. Gehlot had earlier announced enhancement in the MLA-LAD Fund in each Assembly constituency in the 2021-22 Budget.

The State government had announced free COVID-19 vaccination for the people above 18 years on April 25, after a prolonged tussle with the BJP government at the Centre, while affirming that the budget for development works and social security schemes would have to be slashed in order to allocate funds for inoculations.

Mr. Gehlot, who had raised the issue of free vaccination with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the State government would spend ₹2,500 crore on the vaccination of those from 18 to 45 years, whose number in the State was estimated at 3.75 crore. “It would have been better if the Centre had agreed to incur the cost, as it did in the case of those above 45 and 60, because it would have saved the State Budget from getting disturbed,” he said.

From the remaining ₹2 crore in the MLA-LAD Fund, ₹1 crore will be spent on strengthening the medical infrastructure, purchase of equipment and setting up of model community health centres. Besides, ₹25 lakh will be utilised for providing food packets and distributing essential items to the poor during the lockdown.

Since the 2021-22 Union Budget had allocated ₹35,000 crore for vaccination, it had created an impression that the Centre would bear the entire cost for the drive. Mr. Gehlot said the State governments, which did not allocate funds for vaccination because of this, were facing an additional financial burden with the Centre shifting the responsibility to them.

Pilot donates salary

Meanwhile, former Deputy Chief Minister and Tonk MLA Sachin Pilot on Tuesday donated his one month’s salary to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund as a contribution for the fight against the pandemic. He also recommended utilisation of ₹3 crore from his MLA-LAD Fund for purchasing vaccines in his Assembly constituency.

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