Delhi will face an acute shortage of ambulances with 813 such diesel vehicles that are more than 15 years old set to be taken off road after the National Green Tribunal’s order.
The Delhi government has to de-register diesel ambulances in phases as per the NGT order, a move that is likely to take a toll on the city’s crumbling health infrastructure.
There is one ambulance for every 4,00,000 residents of Delhi, as opposed to the WHO norm of one ambulance for every 50,000 persons.
An analysis by the transport department says that out of the total 1,600 ambulances in Delhi, 1,210 run on diesel and 991 of them are over a decade old.
“If we start deregistering vehicles that are over 15 years, in the first phase, a total of 1.87 lakh vehicles will go off road. Of the 991 ambulances, 813 will go off road in the first phase . Also, of the total 89,917, 10-year-old goods vehicles, 81,169 are 15 years old,” said a transport department official.
Officials said there is no exemption to this rule for any kind of vehicle, which means all those that fall under the specified category, including ambulances, will go off road.
“Removing any more ambulances from the roads would result in an acute shortage. But it is for the good in the longer run because these ambulances are not up to the mark,” said Manu Jain, director of Bafna Healthcare Pvt Ltd, which manufactures ambulances and mobile healthcare units.
The older ambulances lack medical devices and support systems needed to stabilise trauma patients. “These vehicles are like any car or taxi, just with a red light and a siren. The suspensions are so bad that a person with cardiac problems may suffer a heart attack. If they are taken off the road, people of Delhi will at least have a shot at quality healthcare,” he said.
Sunil Singh, who owns Shubham Ambulance Service, has four vehicles that ferry 6 to 7 patients daily. “None of my vehicles are older than 15 years. Plus, the new CATS ambulances will deal with any shortage created by the removal of the older ambulances,” he said.