Mahaprayan vans gathering dust at government hospitals in Cuttack

Cuttack: With instances of dead bodies being carried on shoulders and other means continue to be reported every now and then in Odisha, the Mahaprayan vehicles are gathering dust in several government hospitals including at City Hospital and Sishu Bhawan in Cuttack which has now emerged as a major concern for many.

The Mahaprayan hearse scheme was launched by Odisha Government in August, 2016.

As per RTI information, the Mahaprayan vehicle has only been used only for five times at City Hospital since the inauguration of the welfare scheme.

However, the hospital authorities claimed that the government is charging Rs 10 per kilometre for the hearse facility which is much higher than the rates being charged by private vehicles.

Similarly, only 1,233 dead bodies were transported in Mahaprayan vehicles at SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH) in the last two years.

“The private vehicles are charging much less than the fares fixed by the government due to which people are not utilising the scheme and Mahaprayan vehicles are lying defunct at the hospital,” said Administrative Officer of Sishu Bhawan, Lingaraj Behera.

“The number of casualties is very less at City Hospital as critical patients are referred to SCBMCH. However, Mahaprayan van is provided whenever there is a demand, “said Assistant Divisional Medical Officer (ADMO) at City Hospital, Sanghamitra Panda adding that no one has been ever stopped from availing the vehicle.

“When I enquired about the Mahaprayan van to take my relatives’ body home, the concerned authorities informed me that Rs 10 will be charged per kilometre while the operators are demanding additional Rs 200 for cleaning the vehicle,” said the relative of a deceased.

Meanwhile, several stakeholders and social organisations criticised such callous attitude of the concerned authorities.

“The concerned authorities are saying that there is less demand for Mahaprayan vans among people but such lackadaisical attitude on the part of the officials is not justified,” said social activist Amiya Bhusan Biswal.