102-108 Ambulance service still a non-starter; misses deadline

Irfan Tramboo
Srinagar, Dec 2: Already running late, much awaited 102-108 Critical Care Ambulance service has missed another deadline set for it to be made operational in both the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Few months ago, it was given out the service will be made operational by November 23. However, due to the sluggish pace of putting in place the pre-requisites, the deadline set by the Health and Medical Education Department stands missed all over again.
It was also stated that the service provider will roll out 416 such ambulances with different service parameter in the erstwhile State in one go in first year itself to compensate for delay in the project.
Earlier, the deadline that was set for the service to become operational was April 2019, but after the deliberations, November 23 was marked as the final deadline.
A document stating the minutes of meeting in March this year with all the stakeholders read: “…By 28th April, 2019, 102/108 services are expected to Go-Live. MD JKMSCL also intimidated that the draft MoU stands prepared and shared with Mission Director, NHM as well.” However, the deadline of April was subsequently missed and so was the deadline that was set in the month of November.
Mission Director, National Health Mission (NHM) Bhupinder Kumar told Excelsior that he cannot give any exact date on which the service will be made operational. He, however, said that things are being executed at a good pace and that a lot has been achieved.
Besides facing many administrative issues, the project also faced financial shortcomings. As the State Government was not able to fund the project, the Centre was required to do the funding for the project.
In this regard, the National Health Mission (NHM) was designated as the executive agency of the project and was supposed to release funds in order to start the project in J&K.
However, in May, the NHM’s J&K branch and even the administrators in the Health and Medical Education Department reported that the concerned executive agency was not releasing the required amount of funds, which was leading to further delay in starting the project.
Despite no shortage of funds, the pace of work that is again sluggish. However, authorities said that they are working at it: “We are getting the required things done; the vehicles are coming in and work is going on-I can tell you that we have covered a large portion of what was ought to be done,” said the Mission Director.