108 ambulances: One year on, Health Dept. still to find new service provider

There are nearly 711 Arogya Kavacha ambulances.   | Photo Credit: K_Gopinathan

A year after terminating its contract with GVK-EMRI (Emergency Management and Research Institute) to provide emergency medical response service through the 108 Arogya Kavacha ambulances, the Health Department is still on the lookout for a new service provider.

Following a poor response to tenders invited twice, the department is now toying with the idea of running the service on its own.

This issue was discussed in a meeting convened by the new Principal Secretary Jawaid Aktar and Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey on Wednesday.

The government entered into an agreement with GVK-EMRI in 2008 for a period of 10 years on a PPP model. Under the arrangement, ambulance infrastructure was provided by the government while the company ran the service with its employees.

There are nearly 711 Arogya Kavacha ambulances and apart from that, there are over 800 ambulances attached to government hospitals. The plan is to merge all these ambulances and bring them under the Arogya Kavacha service. This is to ensure that there is one ambulance for a population of 42,000. Till now, one ambulance has been catering to 92,000 people. “With the company’s 10-year contract ending next month, the department is now worried whether it will be able to find an efficient service provider in a month. Hence, it is exploring all possibilities,” said an official.

Health Director S. Puspha Raj told The Hindu that the department was working on inviting re-tenders.

“As there was poor response to the previous tenders, we are discussing what can be done to ensure that the service runs smoothly without any interruption,” he said.

On July 14, 2017, the Health Department terminated its nine-year association with the company citing irregularities and violation of tender conditions.

The company was asked to serve a three-month notice period till October 13. Subsequently, the department had invited tenders for a new service provider and the last date to apply was September 9, 2017.

Meanwhile, the company approached the High Court of Karnataka challenging the termination of their service before the expiry of their 10-year contract period.

The company also contended that in the fresh tenders, the conditions were such that GVK was unable to participate. The High Court ruled that the company should be allowed to participate in the tender process.

Subsequently, in December the department relaxed tender conditions citing poor response to the tenders (only two bidders had participated).

After this, GVK-EMRI was asked to continue providing services till January 31, 2018.

Thereafter, the re-tendering process was further delayed due to Assembly elections and the company was again asked to continue till further orders.

Now, two months after elections, the department is yet to invite re-tenders.

Madhusudan Kumar, COO, GVK EMRI, said the company will continue to provide services till August, when its contract ends.

“We have put in place a quality cell to provide improverised services without any interruption. We will again participate in the bid,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 4:00:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/108-ambulances-one-year-on-health-dept-still-to-find-new-service-provider/article24514845.ece

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