An ambulance driver in Bengaluru was arrested for allegedly dumping a COVID-19 patient's body outside a crematorium on the city's outskirts as the deceased's family refused to pay the "exorbitant fee" he sought, police said on Friday. The accused was identified as Sharath Gowda. Deputy Commissioner of Police, Northeast division, CK Baba said that the accused had sought Rs 18,000 for transporting the body from Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research in Jayanagar 9th Block to the China Shanti Dhama Electric Crematorium in Hebbal.
Baba observed that the cost cannot exceed more than Rs 2,000 as the distance between the two points was not more than 30 km. "Such inhumane acts shall not be accepted. While he (the accused) has tried to get an exorbitant charge from the family of the deceased, his action of leaving the body and the attendant outside the crematorium shows his callous attitude," he said. The police lodged an FIR based on a complaint filed by the deceased's kin at the Amruthahalli police station. Baba also appealed to people to not give into such demands and report such incidents to the nearest police station.
Meanwhile, an officer at Amruthahalli police station said that the investigation was underway to apprehend more people linked to the particular incident and other similar issues. After receiving several such complaints, earlier this month, Karnataka had notified a cap on rates allowed to be charged for ambulance services in the state. As per an order issued by the Transport Department, patient transport ambulances can charge Rs 1,500 up to 10 km and Rs 12 for each subsequent kilometre, with a waiting charge of Rs 200 per hour.
For ambulances with basic life support facilities, the maximum charge is fixed at Rs 2,000 upto 10 km while Rs 12 can be charged for every kilometre thereafter. The waiting charge for BLS ambulances is fixed at Rs 250 per hour. "The maximum rates include oxygen, ambulance equipment, PPE kits, gloves, mask, shield, sanitisation, driver, and emergency medical technician," the order had mentioned.