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Job uncertainty fades fest of colours
- Ambulance service employees to shun Holi over unpaid salaries

This Holi is not that colourful for everyone.

Drivers and technicians, who were earlier associated with the 102 ambulance service, have decided not to play Holi because uncertainty looms large over their jobs.

Many of them have not been paid salary since August last year and now they are also not being assigned job. These have doubled their fears and problems.

After a dispute between private firm Dr. Jain Video on Wheels Ltd and the state government regarding the operation of 102 ambulance services a few months back, the government decided last month to run the ambulance under the 102 ambulance service on its own.

Under the new set up, the state is not taking services of many drivers and technicians who were associated with 102 ambulance service.

The state is taking services of very few drivers and technicians now. In the earlier set-up, the private firm Dr. Jain Video on Wheels Ltd was running the services on public-private partnership mode but now all the district health societies concerned have taken over the control of ambulances running under 102 ambulance service. They are running the ambulances with their own numbers. Earlier, there used to be only one number (102) to avail the service.

The drivers and technicians who are not being engaged in the alternative arrangement of the 102 ambulance service are a worried lot. Most of them said the government should have provided them their due payment at least before Holi so that they could enjoy the festival.

“The officials of Dr. Jain Video on Wheels Ltd had told us that they would provide us at least Rs 2,000 from our total payment before Holi so that we could celebrate the festival. But they failed to keep their promise. Dussehra, Diwali to bina payment ke guzar gaya, ab lagta hai Holi bhi bina payment ke guzar jayegi (Dussehra and Diwali passed without payment. Now it seems, Holi, too, would pass without payment). My situation is that I don’t even know how to run my family forget celebrating Holi,” said Radhakan Pathak (36), one of the drivers of 102 ambulance service, who has not been engaged in the alternative set up of 102 ambulance service.

A senior official with the State Health Society, which now looks after the alternative arrangement of the ambulance services, admitted that the fate of the drivers and technicians of 102 ambulance services is left in the lurch.

“It has still not been decided whether all the drivers and technicians of the 102 ambulance services would be engaged in the alternative arrangement of 102 ambulance service or not. We are yet to decide about this. We are in the phase of transition. I can’t reveal much about the plan,” said the official.

Arun Prakash, the regional programme manager of Bhagalpur division of the State Health Society, said: “Of the 16 ambulances running under 102 ambulance service in Bhagalpur, only 11 are functional. Of the 10 ambulances running under 102 ambulance service in Banka, only four are functional. Similarly in other districts also 50-75 per cent ambulances are running under the alternative arrangement.”

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