Apprehensive that ambulances and cranes given to states under the National Highways Accident Relief Service Scheme (NHARSS) to provide emergency medical and relief services are not being properly utilised, the road ministry has decided to carry an audit of the entire fleet.
Since 2001, under NHARSS, the ministry has spent over Rs.150 crore to provide 509 ambulance and 453 cranes to states across India. Besides, till 2007, another 611 ambulances and 502 cranes were given to NGO’s across India at Rs.156 crore. The dole to NGOs has since been discontinued.
However, despite spending over Rs.300 crore, the ministry doesn’t have any record of how many of them are functional, if these are located at accident prone sites on highways and if they are actually being utilized to transport victims to hospital and clear vehicles from the accident site.
“The ministry has on April 30 written to transport secretaries and director general/inspector general of police of all states and union territories to provide all information related to the use and deployment of cranes and ambulances supplied under NHARSS, said a senior ministry official.
The decision to conduct an audit comes in the backdrop of recent allegations of rampant misuse of ambulances provided by the Centre under schemes such as the National Rural Health Mission.
Under NHARSS ambulances are given based on ad-hoc requirement from states.
The ministry has called a meeting on May 24 to review the existing arrangements for providing of emergency medical services to road accident victims in each state including deployment of ambulances, cranes and their optimal use.