The firm looking after the operation and maintenance of 265 ambulances in the capital has threatened to withdraw services from September 1, after allegations emerged that three of their employees were assaulted by staffers of the Centralised Accident and Trauma Services (CATS). While BVG-UKSAS EMS Private Limited is responsible for the smooth operation of these ambulances, which cater to government hospitals, the vehicles are owned by CATS, a Delhi government department.
In a letter dated August 20, 2018, the private firm has demanded “concrete action by CATS by August 30” and for the culprits to be arrested, failing which they will go on strike. This letter states that three assistant managers, working with BVG, were allegedly beaten up at the behest of “workers employed by CATS, such as pilots (drivers) and paramedics”.
The most recently recorded case was on August 12, where Rajender Kumar (47), assistant manager (south), was allegedly beaten up outside the Saket court at 5.45 pm. “Four men with baseball bats attacked me. They hit my head, kicked me, and ran away. Their faces were covered,” said Kumar. An FIR against unknown persons has been registered at Saket police station, under IPC sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (conspiracy).
The contract to maintain ambulances and manage operations was handed over to BVG in 2016. “The problem between contractual labour and us exists because the working style has changed. We ask for accountability and punctuality. They hold illegal strikes and don’t want to work,” said Kumar.
Dr Nivedita Patnaik, manager of operations at BVG, explained that while CATS hires the contractual labourers, BVG pays their salaries. BVG also employs permanent staff to manage operations. “Contractual staff were promised permanent jobs by the government and that didn’t happen. The pressure on us is from labourers, who hold illegal strikes and blackmail permanent employees. Now they are getting them beaten up,” she said.
With no response from CATS for over a week, BVG wrote a letter to the Secretary, Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday, reiterating that it will withdraw services if the “culprits are not caught” before September 1. The letter also states that certain CATS employees have made a WhatsApp group which “uses unparliamentary language towards a female officer”. The letter mentions names of CATS employees that BVG holds responsible for “all incidents, and for continuously instigating the entire staff since the beginning of the contract”.
Apart from Kumar, Nitin Bajpayee (30), assistant manager (southwest), was allegedly beaten up twice — once on September 29, 2017, and again on June 30, 2018. “The men who beat me up abused me over my work,” he alleged.
Patnaik said if the services are withdrawn by BVG, “there would be a disastrous impact as contractual labour will not be paid either”.
A Delhi government spokesperson said, “The operations are run on a contractual basis. We will ensure that services are not affected in any manner.”