Amid the financial crunch faced by the State government owing to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, government hospitals in the city have made use of private buses to transport health workers even as the public sector Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) buses remain parked at the depots.
According to sources, Kilpauk Medical College Hospital, Government Royapettah Hospital, Stanley Medical College Hospital, Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Institute of Child Health, Institute of Mental Health and Institute of Ophthalmology had used private bus services for about Rs 27 lakh. A senior doctor at the Institute of Child Health said that there was no specific demand for private buses from the staff. “Since private buses were made available by the health department, it is being used by the staff,” the doctor said.
Doctors’ Association for Social Equality general secretary Dr GR Ravindranath questioned why the health department should use private buses after spending a huge amount for the transportation of the health workers. “When the MTC buses were available, what was the necessity to use the private buses? For the government, on one hand, a huge amount is being spent on private buses and on another hand MTC would be making losses. The health department should take up with the MTC to operate more buses for the benefit of the health workers,” he said.
A senior official of the MTC said that 240 buses were being operated for the benefit of government and the corporation employees and health workers. “Apart from special bus services, we are also operating 300 to 350 chartered bus services in the city for government departments, Corporations, railways stations and the airport on a daily basis,” the official said, adding that the MTC has reduced the charges for the chartered trips to Rs 6,000 for 150 km from Rs 9,000 for 100 km. As a preventive measure, only 24 persons could travel at a time in the bus, he noted.