Ludhiana factory collapse: Govt-run ambulances collapse; 12 out of 13 bodies ferried by private ones

Of the total 13 dead bodies, 12 were ferried by the ambulances run by Samvedna Trust, a city-based NGO. Only one body was transported by the government-run 108 ambulance service.

punjab Updated: Nov 23, 2017 14:59 IST
Sumeer Singh
Sumeer Singh
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Ludhiana factory collapse,death factory,Govt-run ambulances
An 108 Ambulance near the factory site in Ludhiana on Wednesday. (Gurpreet Singh/HT)

The fire mishap in the plastic factory in Ludhiana that claimed 13 lives has raised questions over the functioning of state health department that had failed to utilise the government-operated 108 ambulance services to its full capacity. Instead, ambulances of a private firm were used to ferry the injured and the dead bodies from the building collapse site to the Civil Hospital and other private hospitals in the city.

Of the total 13 dead bodies, 12 were ferried by the ambulances run by Samvedna Trust, a city-based NGO. Only one body was transported by the government-run 108 ambulance service.

Surprisingly, the staff members of the 108 ambulance service claimed that they were instructed to remain stationed at the sight but not utilise the vehicle.

President of employees’ association Punjab,Bikramjit Singh said, “There were seven ambulances stationed at the building collapse site but only two of them were used. We were asked to remain stationed so that visitors and media could see us.”

“The health department did not transfer money into our petrol cards so that we could not fill fuel in ambulances till Monday. We have also not received salaries for over two months. On Tuesday, 50% of our salaries were given to us,” added Bikramjit. He added that since November 16, the 108 ambulance had run out of fuel.

State project manager, 108 Ambulance service, Saikat Mukherjee and Civil Surgeon Ludhiana, Hardeep Ghai did not have a clear answer as to why the government-run ambulance service was not utilised. Ghai said, “I have to check the matter first and only then can I comment on it.”

Mukherjee said, “With the change in the state government, we are facing some issues and payments are getting delayed as the government did not have sufficient funds. We have paid 50% of the salaries to all employees. The rest of the salaries will be paid later.”

Samvedna Trust manager Jajpreet Singh said, “We lifted 12 dead bodies from the building collapse site and two injured were also transported to the hospital. After post-mortem, we ferried eight dead bodies to their respective destinations including Amritsar and Gurdaspur.”

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 14:58 IST