Bhopal, Feb 22 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh government on late Friday evening transferred the National Health Mission (NHM) Director Chhavi Bharadwaj following controversy over a circular on motivating people for vasectomies.
According to a government order issued here, Bharadwaj who is attending a training programme will be posted as Officer on Special Duty at the state secretariat till further order.
The government was hustled into withdrawing the circular which caused uproar over the disincentives she had prescribed for non-performing personnel. The circular asked top divisional officers and district officers including health department to identify male health workers with “zero work output” and apply the “no work no pay” principle if they don’t motivate at least one male vasectomy by March 31.
Tagged as “Extremely Important” the circular was issued on February 11. The official had expressed dissatisfaction over the slackness of MPHWs in motivating potential males for sterilisation. The circular was sent to all the divisional commissioners, district officers, CMOs and other health officials of the state.
Bhardwaj had appealed in the order to seriously review vasectomy.
The circular followed National Family Health Survey-4 report that suggested 0.5 per cent men were opting for sterilisation in Madhya Pradesh. The Director had asked MPHWs to mobilise at least five to 10 “willing beneficiaries” during the family welfare camps in the districts.
It directed the male multi-purpose health workers (MPHWs) to get at least one man sterilized in this fiscal ending next month or face withholding of salary or even compulsory retirement.
The circular that reminded of provisions during the Emergency, was hastily withdrawn following protests by the opposition BJP.
“I have just now voided the NHM’s order with immediate effect. The language in it was not proper,” said state Health Minister Tulsi Silawat.
The minister’s admission about rescinding the order was qualified with a statement “Things should be done after proper reasoning.” he said. The order has been in effect for 10 days and was to be treated as top priority matter.
The BJP which keeps directing its tirade against the government over lax approach to family welfare seized the opportunity to protest and said the protests would continue even after the minister ordered the withdrawal of circular.
Former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan said, “Madhya Pradesh has an undeclared emergency. Is this Emergency Part II of the Congress? If the efforts of the MPHWs are lacking, the government should take action, but the decision to withhold salary and retire if the targets are not met is dictatorial.”
BJP leader Sambit Patra said MP government’s actions remind of the Emergency. Congress terms the national government’s firm administration as Emergency, while there is an emergency in their state.
Ironically, Chief Minister Kamal Nath whose childhood mate Sanjay Gandhi was held responsible for the atrocities in the name of family planning during the Emergency.
The NHM Director could not be contacted. The order to perform or face action was seen as a means to coerce people to get sterilised.