5,000 ambulances registered under RTO fraudulently being operated to ferry passengers
It is an understood fact about Indians that they can arrange a jugaad (alternative) for almost anything and everything.
This time, they have found one to earn easy money from one of the most important life saving and pivotal component of health services the ambulance.
The figures to be put first There are about 40,000 ambulances registered with the Regional Transport Offices (RTO) across the state.
According to an estimate of the transport department, over 5,000 private ambulances out of these are being fraudulently operated for other purposes.
After numerous complaints from across the state about ambulances being used to ferry commuters rather than patients, the transport department decided to solve the menace and launched a statewide crackdown.
The drive was initially launched in about a dozen major cities of the state which have nearly 3500 ambulances registered in the RTOs and the results were shocking.
The officers caught ambulances ferrying passengers rather than patients on over 350 occasions including some repeat offenders.
A deeper investigation also revealed that the ambulances involved in the menace were also plying on particular roots just like other public transport vehicles.
According to the norms of the transport department, ambulances get 100 per cent rebate in road tax, unlike other commercial vehicles which are supposed to pay the tax every quarter and the rates of these vehicles are higher as compared to other personal vehicles.
This is where the game begins. It is a must for an ambulance to get itself registered with a hospital or nursing home and it is neither checked nor intercepted by the authorities.
Moreover, even if an ambulance is caught involved in such practices, the hospital wipes off its hand saying that it only has a contract with the vehicle and hence it is not the hospitals responsibility for any illegal activity.
This was the loophole that is being exploited by the erring vehicles. We are chalking out new strategies to make stringent laws, Gangaphal, additional transport commissioner (road safety cell), transport department, told MAIL TODAY.
The norms will now include giving rebate in the registration fee of ambulances only to those nursing homes that are giving treatment to pregnant women. Besides, the ambulances will now be registered in the name of the nursing home or the private hospital.