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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > mid day investigation Private ambulances in Mumbai triple their rates with increasing load of Covid 19 deaths

mid-day investigation: Private ambulances in Mumbai triple their rates with increasing load of Covid-19 deaths

Updated on: 06 May,2021 07:21 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Vishal Singh , Shirish Vaktania | vishal.singh@mid-day.com mailbag@mid-day.com

With government and civic ambulances staff overworked, private players are fleecing those in grief, even adding exorbitant ‘last rites packages’

mid-day investigation: Private ambulances in Mumbai triple their rates with increasing load of Covid-19 deaths

Yedoba Janseva Sanstha’s ambulance operated by Deepak Shah

With the increasing load of cases, hospitalisations and deaths due to Covid-19, private ambulance services have been operating at three to four times the normal prices, a mid-day investigation has found. Those who provide material for final rites, too, have also tripled their rates. Posing as relatives of Covid-19 deceased, mid-day spoke to ambulance service providers in the city for a ground report. While the operators are charging anything between Rs 3,000 and Rs 6,000, the charges fixed by the RTO range from Rs 700 to Rs 1,190 for various models of vehicles. The prices are for a distance of 25 km.


Distraught relatives of COVID patients often don’t bargain with operators and agree to pay what they demand. File pic
Distraught relatives of Covid-19 patients often don’t bargain with operators and agree to pay what they demand. File pic


Service providers were also found offering ‘packages’ including ambulance services, PPE kits, carrying the body and material for rituals. Some of the ambulance operators have tied up with sellers of the ritual material. Operators in south Mumbai refused to give their names but offered visiting cards with relevant contact numbers. With government and civic services already overburdened, people have little choice but to turn to private operators.


Bhagwati hospital, Dahisar

The ambulance service here costs Rs 5,500, including final rites kit, for a distance of 5-6 km (Dahisar to Dahanukarwadi Smashan Bhoomi in Kandivli). The service is managed by ambulance driver Deepak Shah using an ambulance of Yedoba Janseva Sanstha.

Deepak Shah
Deepak Shah

mid-day approached Shah outside Bhagwati hospital at 1 pm on Wednesday posing as relatives of a Covid-19 patient who died at Bhagwati hospital. “We will charge Rs 5,500. Workers will wear PPE kits. The ambulance will have two staffers to handle the body,” Shah said.

When mid-day asked about the high rates, Shah said, “We would also be at risk, PPEs are costly. We will also carry the body till the crematorium. You don’t have to touch the body, we will take all the risk.”

Rs 5,500
Price quoted for 5-6 km

Shatabdi hospital, Kandivli

The ambulance provider here quoted Rs 3,500 for 2 km (Shatabdi hospital to Dahanukarwadi Smashan Bhoomi). The service is run by an MNS union leader, Vishal.

Seller of final rites material; (right) MNS union leader Vishal who manages the ambulances outside Shatabdi hospital
Seller of final rites material; (right) MNS union leader Vishal who manages the ambulances outside Shatabdi hospital

Vishal told mid-day, “We have 15-20 ambulances operating under the union. We assign work in turns so that everyone gets to earn. The charges are Rs 3,500, the crematorium is 10 minutes away. The ambulance staff will wear PPE kits and do all the work.”

After bargaining, Vishal agreed to charge Rs 3,000. He also introduced mid-day to a man, who did not identify himself, selling final rites kits. “You will get two bamboos, chatai, rope, two earthen pots, kurmura and other things needed for final rites. You don’t have to touch the body, we will do it along with the ambulance staff.”

Rs 3,500
Price quoted for 2 km

Sion hospital

Ganesh Ambulance & Hearse Service near Sion hospital quoted Rs 3,000 for a distance of 7 km (BKC to Shivaji Park).

The operator of Ganesh Ambulance & Hearse Service
The operator of Ganesh Ambulance & Hearse Service

mid-day approached the ambulance operator and enquired about the charges to transport a body from the BKC Jumbo Covid-19 Centre to Shivaji Park. The operator handed mid-day a visiting card, asked about when the service is required and quoted Rs 3,000. After bargaining, the operator agreed to reduce the charge by Rs 500.

“The cost has increased as we have to sanitise the ambulance after every assignment. This adds to the cost. I cannot reduce the cost further. The additional cost is for the risk taken by my employees in ferrying the bodies. They don’t have insurance or help from the hospital or government,” the operator said.

Rs 3,000
Price quoted for 7 km

Cooper hospital, Vile Parle

Here the ambulance provider quoted Rs 3,500 for a 2-km distance (Cooper hospital to Andheri East Smashan Bhoomi) plus a waiting charge of Rs 500/hour. Posing as a relative of a Covid-19 deceased, mid-day approached Cardiac Ambulance service inside Cooper hospital.