Overcharging hearse vans trigger row at Goa hospital

Health Minister Vishwajit Rane

Panaji, ┬áIt is not just Goa’s infamous taxi drivers who have been accused of overcharging passengers, fresh trouble is brewing among private hearse van operators, who state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has banned from the premises of the largest government-run hospital the Goa Medical College because of overcharging deceased’s kin.

Rane on Sunday announced the banning of private hearse vans from the hospital’s premises, days after his ministry launched a free hearse van service, with a fleet of three vans operated by ‘GVK-EMRI 108’ with government partnership.

“Under GVK-EMRI 108 we have started a free hearse van service. We have taken a government decision to evacuate private hearse vans, who are acting like a mafia, from the hospital premises,” said Rane.

Private hearse vans which operate from the hospital premises near Panaji, have been often accused of overcharging relatives of deceased persons at the state-run hospital, with fees charged to the tune of Rs 15,000 depending on the distance travelled.

Rane said, that with no formal rate card, the private hearse van services have had a ajoy ride.

He also accused Congress MLA Francis Silveira of threatening the dean of the hospital against the barring of private hearse vans operators from the hospital premises.

“I was really shocked to get a message from the Dean of the Goa Medical College, Silveira has threatened him with dire consequences over this. I have ordered them to be vacated from the hospital’s vicinity,” Rane said.

When contacted, Silveira said, that he had only requested the Dean to not allow the shifting of hearse vans and that there was no question of threatening the top official.

“I did not threaten the doctor. I have only requested him to meet private hearse van operators and find a solution. We have given a representation to the CM, who has assured me that he would meet those concerned and take a decision,” Silveira also said.

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