The Ghaziabad district administration has launched an inquiry after a woman complained that she was charged Rs 5 lakh by an ambulance driver for ferrying her Covid positive relative from Noida to Varanasi. The driver returned Rs 1 lakh after the complaint. The woman, a resident of Rajnagar extension in Ghaziabad, informed District Magistrate Rakesh Kumar Singh that her brother-in-law had tested positive in April. She said after failing to get any spot in the hospitals of Ghaziabad and Noida, they managed to arrange a hospital bed in Varanasi. They then booked an ambulance equipped with an advanced life support system from Noida. However, the operator demanded Rs 5 lakh for the ride from Noida to Varanasi. The relatives paid the money in full at the time to avoid any mishap, but have now approached the authorities against the grossly unfair charge.
According to the complaint filed with the district magistrate, the ambulance drove 816 km from Noida to Varanasi, and around 1600 km for the round trip. Despite the government fixing rates for renting ambulances, operators charge arbitrary fares from the families of Covid patients. According to the government rates, the most expensive ambulance which comes with a doctor costs Rs 4000 for the initial 10 km. After that, Rs 75 for every km would be charged. Hence, the government rates would mean Rs 1,25,000 fare in this case.
The fare was five times higher than what a Volvo bus would charge from Noida to Varanasi. Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India (BOCI) chairman Gurmeet Singh Taneja said a Volvo bus generally costs Rs 65 per km for passengers. The woman, however, was charged Rs 306 per km which makes the fare almost nearly five times that of the luxury commercial vehicle.
The district magistrate said even though the case comes under Noida administration, but since the woman is a resident of Ghaziabad the matter will be investigated by city magistrate Vipin Kumar.