Protest affects ambulance service

Nearly 600 employees with 300 ambulances were off work till evening, following a suicide attempt by an employee in Bijapur district due to alleged harassment.

The ‘Arogya Kavacha’ is being implemented under the public-private partnership model with the assistance of the GVK EMRI, a private agency. The agency recruits staff and manages the programme. An employee of the scheme working at Sindhagi in Bijapur district attempted to commit suicide on Friday evening alleging harassment by higher officers of the GVK EMRI.

As the news spread, over 600 employees across the State staged protest in front of respective DC offices. The protesters demanded that the Government should take over the programme, reduce working hours of the employees and reinstate 19 employees, who were suspended by the GVK EMRI.

Secretary for Health Department Dr E V Ramana Reddy conducted a video conference with DCs and district health officers of all 30 districts to take stock of the situation. He directed the DCs to persuade the protesters and, if necessary, hire private staff on a temporary basis.

Ramana Reddy, later in the evening, said the employees had withdrawn protest in 12 districts. He expected that by Sunday all employees would resume work.

 Raj, Chief Operating Officer of EMRI, said except employees in Bijapur, Tumkur and parts of Gulbarga, the rest had withdrawn the protest. Around 65 ambulances were still off the roads. The institute would make alternative arrangements to
attend to the public.

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