On Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued a notice. The Court passed the notice after looking into a PIL about increasing the ambulance services for Covid-19 patients. Appearing for an NGO named “EARTH”, Advocate Dhruv Tamta filed a plea in Supreme Court.
The PIL asks for the Court’s intervention i.e. to provide directions to the Centre and State Governments of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi. The State Governments should use their powers under Section 63 & 65 of the Disaster Management Act. Further, the state should order to increase the number of ambulances for the transportation of Covid-19 suspects or patients with ease and in a proper way. It is observed that the ambulances are charging hefty amounts from the patients at present. This is happening all because of non-availability of ambulances.
The petitioner (NGO) also upraises this issue of shortage of ambulances all over the country. The plea also threw light on ambulance services mismanagement. It further mentioned the need to form a “centralized mechanism or operation centres.” Moreover, the authorities should convert Public transport to ambulances for COVID patients. They must also bring ambulances under one roof for the facilitation of services.
The plea thus, states that many deaths occurred due to lack of proper ambulance services. This matter needs immediate attention. The Directorate General of Health Services prepared an (SOP) Standard Operating Procedure. The SOP is about transportation of Covid-19 patients and suspects. He said that “the states have failed to improve ambulance services.”
The plea also states that the available ambulances are taking a hefty amount from the patients. The reason behind this is that they’re covering the price of PPE kits. The drivers will wear these PPE kits and EMTs to protect themselves from coronavirus transmission.
The plea also threw light on adopted measures by some of the states.
Suggestions in the Plea
The Plea also suggested some measures that States should adopt.
- Haryana government in association with OLA started emergency medical trips for easy transportation. The petitioner submitted that OLA added this new option for COVID patients. This made transportation convenient and reliable.
- Tamil Nadu government also took this issue under consideration of shortage of ambulance services. Government-appointed district coordinators to coordinate with the health centres and hospitals. This will make sure the arrangement of ambulances for the patients at earliest.
Prayer made in the Plea
The petitioner requests the centre to use their powers provided in Section 63 & 65 of Disaster Management Act, 2005. Section 63 of DMA, 2005 is about making powers available for rescue operations and Section 65 of DMA, 2005 deals with Power of requisition of resources, provisions, vehicles for rescue operations etc.
The plea seeks to fix the amount charged by the ambulances as per Kms. Further, the Court must make proper guidelines for the health staff in the ambulances, and the EMTs should use proper safety gears like PPE kits etc.
Supreme Court’s Observation
The bench consisting of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah heard the plea. Justice Ashok Bhushan observed that there is a need to reduce or lessen the high rates charged by ambulance services.
The Court will hear this matter after two weeks.
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