Ambulance services across the State are likely to be affected as drivers and paramedical staff of the 108 services launched a strike on Friday night. The government and the private agency running the service, however, claimed to have made alternative arrangements.

As many as 517 ambulances are managed by around 2,400 drivers and paramedical staff in the State. The drivers and paramedical staff working with 108 ambulance service decided to go on strike angered by the government’s “indifference” to their demands.

R. Sridhar, State president, Karnataka Rajya Arogya Kavacha 108 Naukara Sangha, said that 2,400 people across the State were participating in the strike. However, officials from GVK EMRI, the private agency that runs the ambulance service claimed that only a small number of people were taking part in the strike and the services remained unaffected. The sangha has sought termination of contract with GVK EMRI and accused the agency of harassing drivers and the paramedical staff. They also urged the government to increase the salaries of drivers and the paramedical staff to at least Rs. 15,000 a month.

Meanwhile, a press release from GVK EMRI termed the demands “baseless” and “unrealistic”. “We have made back-up plans to run ambulance with the support of government agencies so that the people do not suffer,” it said.