Need to remove drawbacks in health scheme

There seems to be inherent fault lines in the
Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) which should be rectified. First, the policymakers do not realise that old age vintage of ex-servicemen are the major contributors of the scheme. Bringing their dependents into the fold of the scheme has also added to the woes of the polyclinics.

Secondly, the undue centralisation of powers is acting as a drag on the smooth running of the clinics. Thirdly, the polyclinics lack of infrastructure and hence failed to keep pace with the demand. And finally, there is lack of social awareness in the hierarchy of medical services which take consumers for granted and make them shuttle between hospitals and polyclinics.

It is time the authorities equipped polyclinics with the latest infrastructure and decentralised powers. It is not advisable to scrap the scheme as many members are lower rank veterans and benefits overweigh in their favour.

Lt-Col CHANAN SINGH DHILLON (retd), Chandigarh

Dear readers

Letters to the Editor, neatly hand-written or typed, upto 150 words, should be sent to the Letters Editor, The Tribune, Sector 29 C, Chandigarh. Letters can also be emailed at the following address: letters@tribunemail.com

— Editor-in-Chief




I have served in the Indian Army for 40 years. My terms of engagement were as per previous rules but with passage of time, the ECHS has been introduced to demoralise the ex-servicemen. It has not been formulated to cover medical treatment to the retired personnel. The doctors sitting in the ECHS have no adequate experience.

According to the latest instructions, military hospitals do not attend to ex-service personnel. Moreover, ECHS authorities have not recognised any civil hospital where treatment can be provided to the ex-servicemen. The Officer-in-Charge of the polyclinic gets Rs 15,000 and Medical Officer Rs 20,000 for just sitting idle.

I endorse the suggestion for winding up the ECHS system. Surely, military hospitals can provide medical treatment to the ex-servicemen.

Maj PREM C. CHAUHAN (retd), Hisar


The ECHS authorities are creating red tape, especially with regard to reference sought by a patient to an empanelled hospital. Now a patient has to produce him/herself not only before the ECHS polyclinic Medical Officer but also attend the OPD of the speciality/super-speciality of the military hospital whose OPD days many not be the same.

This implies that a patient may have to spend 3-4 days to obtain the reference. This may not affect local patients much but would be agonising for those coming from remote areas with one or two attendants. The ECHS should ease the situation soon.

The ECHS polyclinic at Command Hospital, Chandigarh, functions from a small room where there is no space for a patient and his/her attendant even to stand because of the huge rush. Why cannot the ECHS have separate accommodation in the Command Hospital complex to ease the situation?

Brig R.N. SHARMA (retd), Palampur


If an empanelled hospital recommends relatively costlier but patient-friendly procedure, ECHS or military hospitals should not impose a cheaper option on the unwilling patient, like, for example, open-heart surgery instead of angioplasty just because the former is comparatively cheaper than the latter. The cost of treatment should not be the criterion.

The ECHS, like any other contributory health scheme, cannot be self-sustaining. The government is duty-bound to subsidise the treatment as a social security measure. It cannot run away from this obligation. Furthermore, only about 10 per cent members may get inflicted with major ailments requiring costly treatment.

However, I offer a suggestion. A suitable but liberal ceiling may be fixed for every major ailment and any expenditure beyond that may be partly shared by the members.

Wg-Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

From fame to infamy

Kaavya Viswanathan’s reprehensible act has surfaced like a scum from the nadir of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. The initial shilly-shally tone of both the author and publisher has given in to apology, verging to the extent of being penitent.

Kaavya’s claim of “internalisation, photographic memory, unconscious and unintentional act” seems to be fabulous, at least for the time being. Given the Crown Publishing’s list of 40 similarities including passages, characters, plot points, of which a 14-word passage appears verbatim in Megan McCafferty’s novels Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. In the light of such substantial evidences, her contention stretches beyond the breaking point.

Dishonesty and insincerity on the part of the author amounts to breach of trust with the readers. Secondly, it is a dubious act of attributing excellence. And finally, it is “nothing less than an act of literacy identity theft”.

Serious questions are being raised over Kaavya’s talent, skill and inspiration to write, which catapulted her to the 32nd spot on the New York Times Fiction List.



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