Considering requisitioning pvt ambulances: Maha, BMC tell HC

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Mumbai, Jun 5 (PTI) The Maharashtra government and BMC on Friday told the Bombay High Court it was considering requisition of privately operated ambulances in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the state, and BMC counsel Anil Sakhare told the court the authorities are exploring other options to ensure ambulances that are privately operated start plying on the roads.

The court was further told that the Regional Transport Office (RTO) will be directed to publish on its website the contact numbers of private ambulances operating in a particular area for easy access to the public.

The assurance was given to a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Amjad Sayed which was hearing a petition filed by Kirit Somaiya, former Member of Parliament, raising concerns over shortage of ambulances in the city.

The court posted the plea for further hearing on June 9 after the government sought time.

As per the petition, the city had 3000 ambulances, including private ones, until March 20, which reduced to 100 after the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

Somaiya's advocates Gaurav Mehta and Shivani Agarwal said the number of COVID-19 cases in the city was steadily increasing and in such a situation, there was a dearth of ambulances.

'The government runs '108' ambulance services which has 93 ambulances in Mumbai. There are approximately 3000 ambulances run by private operators. It is shocking to note there has been a significant decrease in the number of private ambulances during the pandemic,' the petition said.

Somaiya alleged the state government and municipal body were blatantly ignoring the issue and had not taken any efforts to increase number of ambulances.

'The intent of setting up isolation wards, quarantine centres, high functioning hospitals and efforts of so many medical and health care workers shall be in vain if people who are in need of these services fail to get them in time,' the petition said.

Somaiya sought a direction to concerned authorities to immediately take steps to increase the number of ambulances in the city.

The state government, in a public-private arrangement, has nearly 1000 ambulances, with 93 in Mumbai. Sixty of these are deployed for COVID-19 patients. The hotline number for these ambulances is 108. PTI SP BNM BNM

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