GUWAHATI, Sept 15 - Private hearse or dead body carrying vans, which are doubling up as �ambulances� putting the lives of patients in danger, remains unregulated in Guwahati and many other places in the State.
Significantly, there is a complete ambiguity as to which department is actually mandated to rein in such illegal activities.
While the health department says it has no role in the regulation of such private vehicles as it is the prerogative of the DTO concerned, the Office of the District Transport Officer claims that it is only responsible for checking the fitness of vehicles.
�Many a time, patients in need of critical care die on their way to hospital as such ambulances do not even have basic life support facilities. The blame is then invariably shifted to the hospital,� sources in the health department told this reporter.
�The oxygen cylinders that are seen attached inside are mostly empty and are designed to fool the patient�s family. There is simply no mechanism to regulate them. How can they play with the lives of the people,� sources pointed out.
�Why can�t the local police act on it? The new Motor Vehicle Act has come up with new slabs of fine for those who do not make way for ambulances, which is good. But an ill-equipped and unregistered ambulance is equally fatal,� sources opined.
Apart from the ambulances at private hospitals, the number of 108 Mrityunjoy ambulances stationed in Guwahati is 21.
These unauthorised ambulances are invariably seen parked in and around hospitals, including all the medical colleges and hospitals in the State even as the respective district administration and other line agencies continue to remain blissfully unaware.
Sources said that the authorities of some of the medical colleges and hospitals have apprised the police and the transport department about the gravity of the situation, but all those have apparently fallen on deaf ears.
�It is only after a hospital recommends that the vehicle is equipped with necessary facilities that we issue the permit,� said a senior official of the transport department without wishing to be named.
Amid all these, the gullible section of the public tends to fall into the trap of these unscrupulous elements that, many believe, are acting hand-in-glove with the law enforcers.
The scenario is no different in the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, and some other private hospitals where the driver of such ambulances are even given a cut (by private hospitals) if they can ensure admission of a patient, who mostly come from other districts to Guwahati.