Shillong, Jan 19: Employees of the GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (GVK-EMRI) today organised a protest march demanding that the state government should end the contract with the company and take over the emergency service.
The protest march, organised by the Meghalaya EMRI Workers’ Union (MEMRIWU) from Lawmali to Madan Student in Jaiaw, was also supported by the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations (CoMSO).
The contract signed between the state government and the GVK EMRI will end in March this year.
Reacting to their demand, Health Minister AL Hek said the state government will examine the matter but so far there has been no complaint received against the services being provided by GVK EMRI.
He also reminded that the employees of GVK EMRI are not directly under the state government. When asked, the health minister said if the service of GVK EMRI is not satisfactory, the government “will definitely review, and accordingly, take a call”.
Earlier while speaking to reporters during the protest, president of the union Roypar Kharraswai said the contract signed with GVK-EMRI will expire in March and the state government should not call for fresh tender. “This is because we strongly demand that the state government should take over the emergency services instead of outsourcing it to a private company,” he added.
The union leader also warned of stern action if the government fails to comply with the demand. “We may even have to call a strike to ensure our demand is fulfilled,” he said.
According to him, the government is currently spending Rs 2.47 lakh a month on each 108 ambulance. He also pointed out that states like Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are examples of the emergency services being managed by the state governments.
To a query, the president of the union also accused GVK EMRI of cheating the state government. “Of the 43 ambulances, there are seven which are running single shift instead of 12 hours,” he said.
“Assam and Meghalaya started the emergency services at the same time. Assam started with only 50 108 ambulances in 2008 and now they have increased their fleet to 600 but in Meghalaya the number of ambulances was instead reduced to 23 out of 43,” he said and alleged the company of violating labour laws, besides failure to address shortage of manpower.