CAG finds loopholes in running of 108-ambulance services
Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 23: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has slammed the Kerala government for 'undue favour' and 'mismanagement' in running of 108-Ambulance services under Emergency Medical Services Project due to which additional payment of over Rs 6 crore was made to the operating agencies.
The report for the year ending 2014, placed in the assembly today, said scrutiny of records relating to payments made to Ziqitza Health care Limited (ZHL) revealed that the agency was paid additional operational costs for each km at the rate of Rs 49 for the period of 2010-2011 and at the rate of Rs 53 for 2011-2013.
Payment of additional operational cost for beyond 2,000 km at Rs 49 and Rs 53 resulted in avoidable payment of Rs 5.35 crore, which calls for fixing of responsibility for failure to apply right method of calculation leading to undue favour to the agency, the report stated.
The audit further observed that incorporating the clause permitting yearly increase in the rate, which was not justified, resulted in 'undue' benefit to ZHL and corresponding loss to the state exchequer of Rs 78.03 lakh.
Government also failed to recover at least Rs 16.38 lakh as penalty from current operator GVK-EMRI resulting in undue benefit to the agency, for keeping more number of ambulances off the road as against the permissible numbers.
The project, launched with the commendable objective of providing free emergency ambulance services to the needy, however, failed to attend to 28,102 calls due to non-availability of vehicles. It was implemented only in Thiruvananthapuram and Alappuzha districts, the report said, adding, laxity of the department resulted in the project not being extended to other districts despite availability of funds.
Instances of flouting tender procedures in procurement of delivery vans and fabrication of the same into ambulances were noticed. Violation of contractual provisions resulting in undue benefits to the agencies was also found.
The delivery vehicles were converted as ambulances without reckoning the safety aspects of ambulances via-a-vis delivery vans. The service was started in Thiruvananthapuram in May 2010 and in Alappuzha in April 2012.
The state-level committee to monitor implementation of the project in the state did not meet even once, the report said. The government had faced heat after Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan called for a high-level enquiry into alleged irregularities during the running of the project by ZHL, against which Rajasthan police had registered a case.
Ravi Krishna, son of former Union minister Vayalar Ravi, is a director in the company.