Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday ordered a Vigilance inquiry into the allegation that the ‘108’ ambulance service, run by Ziquitza Health Care Limited, had overbilled the State government for the service.
Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan had alleged that the company had billed the government for extra kilometres, operated unauthorised, under its contract with the government for running the service. He had also implicated Shaffi Mather, economic adviser to the Chief Minister, in the affair.
Following this, Mr. Mather himself had written to the Chief Minister seeking a high-level inquiry to the satisfaction of the Leader of the Opposition. The Chief Minister immediately ordered the probe.
Mr. Mather said he was a co-founder, an original promoter, and a shareholder of Ziquitza Health Care Limited. However, he had resigned as director of the company in July 2008. He as well as Mather and Company Pvt. Ltd., in which he has equity participation, still holds shares of Ziquitza Health Care. As a lawyer, he also provided legal advice and legal practice to the company. If anyone was guilty, as alleged by Mr. Achuthanandan, he wanted strict action to be taken against them.
Ziquitza Health Care denied the allegations. In a press release, V. Radheesh, head of company’s Kerala operations, said the firm too had sought a high-level inquiry to clear the air. The company was providing exemplary service and had won the contract by qualifying in the tender process. It had been running the service professionally in several States and had not used political influence or done anything illegal. The inquiry would help it to continue the service with confidence.
He added that beside Mr. Mather, Karti Chidambaram, son of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, too had resigned from the company sometime ago.