This came to light after Pappu Yadav ‘raided’ the said campus and released a video online claiming that at least 30 ambulances were lying unused there.
Former Union Minister and Saran BJP Member of Parliament Rajiv Pratap Rudy and the local administration of Saran have come under controversy after it was revealed that at at least 20 plus medical ambulances that were purchased by Rudy in 2019 through his MPLADs fund were lying unused and covered under tarpaulins while being parked in a campus that was running a central government-backed training institute in collaboration with a private institute under ‘Skill India” which is closed now due to covid 19.
These ambulances were under the tarpaulin and were marked “MPLADS 2019” and carried the picture of Rudy apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Authoritative sources told The Sunday Guardian that these ambulances were lying unused on the campus, which also houses a community centre, for atleast 35 days.
However, it can be assumed safely that ambulances were bought before April 2020 as it was at that time that the Union Government suspended the MPLADs fund in view of the financial strain on the government exchequer that was caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This incident came to light after former LS MP and chief of Jan Adhikar Party, Pappu Yadav ‘raided’ the said campus and released a video online claiming that at least 30 ambulances were lying unused there. He further claimed there were at least 100 ambulances in the same place which were shifted once the news reached that Yadav was reaching the campus. The state administration told The Sunday Guardian that 20 ambulances were found on campus.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to the Civil Surgeon of Saran Dr. Janardan Prasad who said that he was not aware of these ambulances lying unused in his district. “I have received no correspondence from the MP. I had read some related news, I am not sure how authentic it is. The MP does not speak to me directly, I am supposed to follow the orders of the DC and DM”, he said.
On being questioned as to whether there was a shortage of ambulances in his district, Prasad said that there is a shortage of ambulances everywhere in the country, and not just in Saran.
In a video that that was released by Rudy later, post the ‘raid’ by Yadav, he stated that of the 80 ambulances in Saran, 56 were in use and the rest were lying unused due to lack of drivers. Before that, a letter written by Rudy to the District Magistrate, Saran on 6 May was released online in which Rudy had requested the DM that more than 50 ambulances were bought under MPLADs fund which were not being put to use because of lack of drivers and asked the DM to arrange the drivers.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian the District Magistrate of Saran, Nilesh Ram Chandra Deore, stated that the administration was aware of these ambulances and further added that he had received the letter from Rudy on 6 May.
“The Administration is aware of these ambulances. The MP runs his own ambulance service in a very efficient way in the district for which they have a control room that monitors the movement of these ambulances and they also share a report on the same with us daily. This is apart from the ambulance service run by the district administration. I had got the letter from the MP on 6 May but since we had a VC with CM on flood preparation on 7, so we were busy with Gandak river inspection. From 7 May evening, we started working on arranging the drivers for these ambulances from various departments but then this controversy broke”, Deore said.
The Sunday Guardian sent a detailed questionnaire on the development to Rudy’s office. In his response Rudy stated: “Ever since 2014, in several tranches ambulances were bought for the panchayats in the districts of Saran. In my parliamentary constituency, I have more than 225 panchayats. I intended to provide one ambulance for each and every panchayat and so far we have been able to procure around 65 ambulances. We have provided one ambulance in more than 52 panchayats. These ambulances are in running in the district of Saran and being managed at the various panchayat through a centralized control room and which caters, monitors, and tracks the ambulances.
“However, the purchase of an ambulance for each panchayat was stopped due to the withdrawal of MPLAD funds during COVID.
“We like to put it on record that Saran has the largest ambulance network in the country provided under the MPLAD scheme. I would like to reiterate that so far there are never been a shortage of any ambulance service in the district, a fact which has been duly acknowledged by the District Administration and the people at large.
“However, there are a couple of ambulances that were lying unutilized which were returned by the panchayats as there was no availability of the drivers or supportive medical equipment during COVID. These were the ambulances that were kept in safe custody awaiting the availability of drivers.
“My letter written to DM, Saran (Copy enclosed), has also requested him to look for drivers.
“I would like to reiterate this is the only of its kind and the most active ambulance network in the District and possibly in the state facilitated by an MP and the district administration is trying its best to provide as many drivers to be deployed on these ambulances.
“The issue raised by Mr. Yadav is an outright gimmick and cheap means to seek publicity. He has chosen to violate all government orders on COVID, travelling, and disturbing public order.”
Interestingly in October 2016, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari along with Rudy, who was then union minister for skill development and entrepreneurship, had Inaugurated the first driving training centre at Chapra, the headquarter of Saran under the Prime Minister Kaushal Vikas Yojana in a bid to help the local youth find employment opportunities.