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108 ambulance under ESMA

Guwahati, July 25: The Assam government today declared 108-Mrityunjoy an “essential service” under the Essential Services Maintenance (Assam) Act, 1980.

This means that workers employed under the service cannot go on any kind of strike. The declaration comes in the wake of a recent strike by employees of the service at their office here, demanding that the state government fulfil their demands, including hike in salaries.

The day-long strike had hit the ambulance service, which plays an essential role in transporting patients from a particular locality to the nearest government hospital during a medical emergency.

The service, which is operated across the state by GVK EMRI, has 2,000 employees across the state at present.

“108-Mrityunjoy is an emergency service that caters to a huge population across the state. Many people in the urban and far-flung areas depend on this service to access medical care. If the employees go on strike, the service is hit and may patients who require critical care suffer. We are glad that this service has been declared an essential service,” an official of GVK EMRI said.

The inclusion of the service under the act prohibits any undesirable element from instigating or preventing any employee from discharging his duties and responsibilities in operating the service.

Any person who instigates or incites other employees to go on strike faces imprisonment upto a period of one year, or with a fine extending to Rs 2000, or with both. Any person who provides financial aid for a strike will also face a similar penalty under the act.

Besides, the employees cannot refuse to work overtime when it is required to maintain the essential service.

The act also bars any conduct that is likely to result in cessation or substantial retardation of work in the service. If any employee of the service begins or participates in an illegal strike, he can be dismissed from the service and face imprisonment for six months or Rs 1,000 as fine or both. The police may arrest without warrant any person who is reasonably suspected of having committed any offence under the act.