Bijnor: The Uttar Pradesh government has made Aadhaar card mandatory for anyone wanting to avail its free ambulance service. Now, if a patient calls an ambulance to his home, his relative or he will have to produce their Aadhaar card. According to officials, this is being done to clamp down on anomalies in ambulance trips, including duration and distance, which have occurred. The recording of Aadhaar numbers of patients will help reduce fraudulent use of the vehicles. However, with large numbers of people, particularly in rural areas, still without Aadhaar cards, residents are expected to face considerable problems.

Health department officials pointed out that ambulance services provided by the government had several loopholes and flaws. Drivers sometimes made fake trips and wrote fraudulent details of patients to siphon off money for fuel. The drivers sometimes made fake calls themselves to make the trips. To stop such irregularities, the state government has sent a letter to all chief medical officers of districts in UP stating that Aadhaar is now a must if someone wants an ambulance.

Bijnor CMO Suhveer Singh said, “There are total of 53 ambulances, including those which can be called by dialling 102 and 108, in the district. ‘Dial 102’ ambulances are reserved for pregnant women, while other patients can dial 108 for an ambulance. No documents were required from the patient to avail the services earlier. Now the state government has instructed us that whenever anyone calls for an ambulance, his Aadhaar card must be produced.”

Singh added, “The government has not declared the exact date to make Aadhaar card compulsory. For the time being, if a patient’s condition is serious and he has no Aadhaar card, he can be carried to hospital. But soon the card is set to be compulsory for all patients.”

However, in the rural parts of the state, Aadhaar cards have still not been made by everyone. With the poor healthcare infrastructure already an issue, residents said the new rule would make the situation even more difficult for patients to reach hospital on time.

Punam Chaudhary, a resident of Puranpur village, said, “It is a good move to curb corruption in the ambulance service. But if someone does not have an Aadhaar card, what will he do? In villages like ours, ambulances don’t even arrive on time and we have to manage on our own.”