PANAJI: The state government today has capped fares for private ambulance service and hears vans for the purpose of use for COVID-19 patients and transportation of dead bodies.
The government has also warned of cancelling driving license or registration certificate of the vehicles if found charging above prescribed rates.
“It has come to notice that some private ambulance drivers/service providers are charging exorbitant rates in the state during the Covid-19 pandemic for transporting patients, which is a matter of serious concern. Now, therefore, in exercise of powers under Section 2(1) of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, the government hereby prescribes capping the fares,” the health department order states
As per the order, Patient Transport Ambulance (PTA) will have to charge Rs 1500 per call 55upto 10 kms and Rs 50 per extra kms above 10 kms and Rs 25 per km return charges.
Similarly for the Basic Life Support Ambulance, the charges capped are Rs 2000 per call upto 10 kms and Rs 50 per extra kms above 10 kms and Rs 25 per km return charges. For Advanced Life Support Ambulance, the capped rates are Rs 4000 per call upto 10 kms and Rs 50 per extra kms above 10 kms.
Lastly for hearse vans, the capped rates are Rs 1500 plus Rs 25 per kms and Rs12.50 per km for return charges.
These capped rates will be all inclusive, including charges for oxygen, all ambulance equipment, PPE kit, gloves, mask, shield, sanitization, driver, EMT, doctor etc.
“The above capped charges are final charges and the operator is not allowed to charge under whatsoever other charges for services rendered. Strict action will be taken on Private Ambulance/Hearse Van Driver/Service Provider/Operator/Owner if order not followed,” the order states
The High Court of Bombay at Goa took up the plight of the people regarding overcharging by some private ambulances and hearse vans. Justice M S Sonak shared an experience wherein a private ambulance charged a COVID-19 patient Rs 4,500 for ferrying him from Dona Paula to Campal.
Likewise, hearse vans are charging Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000. The division bench asked the government to consider what can be done to bring relief to the affected families. “Some thought process has to be done. See what can be done about the capping (of the rates),” the bench told the AG.