Dr Ravinder Singhal as Commissioner of GRP raised several discrepancies related with faster medical treatment for injured and the 108 ambulance service, and this may be a reason for his transfer in just eight months, feel activists
The Maharashtra Government has transferred Dr Ravindra Singhal, the Commissioner of Govt Railway Police (GRP) as Special Inspector General (Training). Although he was transferred along with 37 other officers from the Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre, Dr Singhal's posting does not appear to be 'routine', as he was made Commissioner of GRP just eight months ago. Dr Singhal was very active in protecting railway commuters and raised several issues like medical treatment for victims during golden hour, and non-availability of proper equipment in 108 ambulances and this may be the reason for his transfer, feel activists.
According to replies received by activist Samir Zaveri under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Dr Singhal had sent three letters to General Manager (GM) of Western Railway (WR) for providing medical treatment to victims during the first hour of the incident.
Dr Singhal, in a letter dated 8 April 2015 to the GM (WR) raised the issue of non-availability of necessary medical equipment in ambulances. Citing an incident on 14 March 2015, he said, "The injured was rushed to alliance hospital at Nalasopara through the ambulance but it was observed that there was no oxygen mask in the ambulance, so oxygen could not be given to patient and unfortunately the injured victim died in the hospital on the same day. This is a clear-cut breach of contract. So kindly instruct station masters to check the ambulance from time to time so that such incidents are averted and lives of the injured can be saved."
Health Services department in Maharashtra has signed an agreement with BVG India Ltd for providing ambulance services through 108 number helpline. Earlier in March, Maharashtra government informed the Bombay High Court that it had levied a fine of Rs2.24 lakh on BVG India. This came after the inspections ordered by the High Court found defaults and deficiencies in the 108 ambulance service. The court was hearing a petition filed by Zaveri seeking medical aid to rail accident victims within the "Golden hour" and setting up of emergency medical rooms at stations.
In March, the IPS officer also requested the GM for WR to extend emergency medical treatment facility for injured persons in a railway accident between Virar to Palghar section. Since March 2012, WR is making arrangement for treatment of injured victims in nearby private hospitals at railway cost in Dahisar and Virar section. "...the same needs to be extended up to Palghar section as injured at present are being shifted to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital at Kandivli, which is at a distance of 60kms from Palghar station. Hence, it is necessary to tie up with nearby private hospital in Dahisar to Virar section to meet with the 'Golden Hour' rule and same needs to be extended up to Palghar station." Dr Singhal had said in the letter dated 17 March 2015.
He also requested the Railways to place necessary permanent signboards at accident-prone locations. He said, "...proper signage are required at different locations so that they act as deterrent to the commuters while they travel through trains and cross the railway line. The template for this can be designed by the RPF and GRP together and locations to fix them will also be done jointly."
In addition, Dr Singhal, in a letter sent to Maharashtra's Director for Health Services, expressed displeasure for not being invited GRP Commissioner (Mumbai) and Superintendent of Police (at Pune and Nagpur) for Committee meetings related with the 108-ambulance service.
In a letter dated 17 March 2015, Dr Singhal said, "I wish to draw your attention towards the agreement dated 1 March 2014 made between Director, Health Services and BVG India Ltd for providing ambulance services through 108 helpline. It is obligation on your part to invite GRP Commissioner (and SPs) in Committee Meetings. However, we do not receive any intimation of invitation to attend such meetings, for which we can contribute positively."
No wonder, about 200 locals from Ghatkopar took out a morcha on Monday to protest transfer of Dr Singhal as GRP Commissioner. According to reports, protesters claimed that Dr Singhal's work was 'exemplary' as the Commissioner of GRP and he should have been given more time.
In August 2014, Dr Singhal, who is from the 1996 IPS batch, took over as Commissioner for GRP. Earlier, in 2009 and 2010 he served as SP Railways at Nagpur, where he started a project for providing safe shelter and education to abandoned children who were seen begging on trains and at railway platforms.