Mumbai’s free ambulance service under burden of Rs 245 crore yearly operational cost

A probe has been ordered after chief minister's office received a complaint alleging flaws in the contract of the Mumbai free ambulance service

Mumbai’s free 108 ambulance service which had claimed to reach in a span of 20 minutes has found itself embroiled in a controversy after the finance minister has alleged irregularities in the contract. During the launch, the state government had affirmed that the government will bear the cost of the staff, the necessary equipments and the medicines.

According to a Times of India reports, the finance department has raised questions regarding the high operational cost of the service and that the finance department pays Rs 245 crore to the contractor every year. A fresh probe has been ordered to identify the terms and conditions mentioned in the contract that has been with Bharat Vikas Group (BVG) India Ltd since 2014 after receiving an anonymous complaint.

“We have received a complaint about the contract clauses for the 108 ambulance scheme. We are investigating the complaint and re-looking at the tender conditions,” confirmed additional chief secretary Vijay Satbir Singh. It is being reported that the company did not discuss with AIIMs hospital in Delhi despite it being one of the important clauses in the contract and that the ambulances bought in a much higher price.

The letter has now been sent to the public health department after the Chief minister office received the complaint. Another company had also apparently alleged that the BVG had bagged the contract after putting forth fake documents.

The complaint further claimed that Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh were also carrying out similar services but at a much cheaper price and the state had been spending most of the money when it was only supposed to bear 40% of the cost. However, officials claimed that the salaries of the doctors are also included in the operational cost and that could one of the reason why the operations costs were so high.