Vehicle thieves as ambulance service providers? Kerala puts prestigious project on hold

Vehicle thieves as ambulance service providers? Kerala puts prestigious project on hold
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Kottayam: The Kerala government’s plan to launch a fleet of 315 ambulances across the state has run into rough weather after a potential contractor was found to have used stolen vehicles to run similar services in Karnataka. The finance department has flagged the project recommended by the health department.

The health department picked the lowest bidder - a South India-based consortium of companies - to run the basic life support system. The consortium had submitted a testimonial from a Bengaluru-based firm as proof of its experience in running ambulance services.

The firm is facing a criminal case in connection with financial fraud and its owner is absconding. The owner has been missing for 10 months after he was accused of embezzling Rs 20 crore. The city police had found that the firm had been using 11 stolen ambulances. The vehicles had been seized by the Raj Nagar police.

The police said that the firm used to encourage vehicle thieves to lift ambulances from various parts of the state before using them with changed engine numbers and chassis numbers.

The Malleswaram police have also filed a case against the owner of the firm for duping investors of a cooperative bank.

Kerala health department additional chief secretary Rajeev Sadanandan checked the matter with the Karnataka health department officials as soon as he came to know of the criminal connection. The Rs 437 crore deal in Kerala had gone ahead in the meantime.

The officials also found that one of the constituents of the consortium was hastily formed by the amalgamation of three other companies.

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