News : Disaster Helpline Number Shifted
May 5, 2014 -- The BMC’s toll-free number (108) for disaster management services has been reallocated to state government’s emergency medical service (EMS) and is no longer toll-free. The civic body has now asked the Centre for a new toll-free number for disaster services.
In 2004, the BMC and a few other municipal corporations were given the number for their respective disaster control cells. It has now been allocated as the EMS number across the country. In Maharashtra, dialling 108 on the landline or cellphone nowadays leads callers directly to the Pune call centre, which was inaugurated on January 26. ‘Dial 108’ is the state government’s ambitious plan to provide free ambulances on call.
However, this has caused a lot of inconvenience to Mumbaikars who are still not well-informed about the change in the services on this number. Lot of disaster-related calls from the city are going to the Pune centre, which diverts it back to BMC’s disaster cell, thus causing a loss of valuable time in case of emergencies.
To enable people to file their complaints, the BMC has started a new number 1916 for disaster services. However, the number is not toll-free, causing people to spend money when contacting the civic body to seek any help. 108 was earlier connected to 20 hotlines associated with several disaster management agencies, which was useful in getting assistance quickly. "We have written to the state government asking for a new toll-free number for disaster services. It will be sent to the Centre for further correspondence," said a senior civic official.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, May 6, 2014