A critical care ambulance donated to Kashmir’s health department by an NGO, on the condition that it would be used only for assisting members of the public, has made its way to the fleet of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The ambulance, one of the four highly critical care ambulances equipped with cardiac and trauma care facilities in the state, has been added to CM Mufti’s fleet after her ambulance developed a technical snag. Apart from these four, two other ambulances, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, are part of the governor’s and CM’s fleet.
The ambulance was added to the cavalcade of the chief minister at a time when hundreds of people get injured every day during street protests in the Valley, and a few need to be shifted to Srinagar for expert care. “The ambulance was shifted to CM’s fleet when people needed it the most,” said an official of the health department. “We have signed a MoU with the donors that we would use these ambulances only for the common patients. If Chief Minister’s ambulance had developed som snag that could have been repaired.”
A senior health official told The Indian Express that the ambulance has been added to Chief Minister’s fleet “temporarily” and once her ambulance gets repaired, it would be handed back to the health department. It has been Four months since it was added to Mufti’s fleet.
The ambulance is one of the four sophisticated ambulances donated, by the Borderless World Foundation and Centre for Research and Policy Development (CRDP), to the directorate of health services two years ago. The fleet of ambulances was inaugurated personally by former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on September 22, 2015. Under the MoU signed by government with CRDP, the NGO have the right to recall the ambulances if they are not used for their intended purpose.
The MoU reads that the three ambulances in valley would be stationed on the national highway, one each in north, south and central Kashmir; while the one donated to Jammu health department would be stationed on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway to assist emergency services, especially the road accident victims.
“I am not aware of it,” Suhail Masoodi, Director CRDP told The Indian Express. “If they have done it, it would be a violation of MoU. They (government) should use these ambulances only for the specified purposes and send the ambulance back to its station immediately”.
J-K’s Minister of State (MoS) Health Asiea Naqash said that the ambulances would soon be sent back. “Chief Minister’s cavalcade is important. They (ambulances) may be there for time being due to unrest,” she said. “We would put them soon back into the service (of people)”.
Sources say that the ambulance stationed in Jammu is also being misused by the ministers and is being taken along with their cavalcade to different places instead of being stationed at the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.