Delhi’s cremation crisis resolved as MCD reserves more crematoriums

With the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in the national capital, the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) have been facing heavy blows of the cremation crisis. Reserved for Covid-19 funerals, the Punjabi Bagh cremation ground, on Thursday reached its maximum capacity and had to divert dead bodies to other centres. To tackle this problem in the long run, the South MCD has increased the number of Covid-19 reserved crematorium centres so that people who have lost their relatives do not have to wait longer. It is also planning to announce rewards for the workers deployed in the crematorium centres as they are highly exposed to chances of infection.

 The same issue was also raised by Lok Nayak Hospital which is the largest corona-only hospital of the Delhi government. On Thursday until 4 pm, 34 bodies were brought to the hospital’s mortuary, putting the staff under immense pressure. The hospital, on special request, directed the bodies to the cremation grounds in Nigambodh Ghat, Mangolpuri, ITO and Panchkuian Road. Despite this, 23 bodies were still remaining in the mortuary.

 Standing committee Head of South MCD, Bhupender Gupta said, “The cremation crisis has been resolved now. Previously, we had Punjabi Bagh, Lodhi estate, Kotla, ITO and Madanpuri Khadar crematoriums. Now we have declared two more crematories for disposal of Covid-19 bodies only. The capacity of these venues has been increased to 150-200 but yes, 1-1.5 hours time is required for creating one body. Earlier, everyone at the Punjabi Bagh cremation ground wanted to perform the last rites of their relatives in CNG-furnaces which is time consuming so we have replaced it with wooden furnaces to deal with the rising crisis.”

“We are prepared for the coming times and as directed by the government, we have marked crematory grounds which are away from human habitat. Monetary and nonmonetary incentive ideas for the people working in the cremation grounds have also been thought about to increase their courage. They are taking all precautions, wearing PPE kits and regular sanitization is mandatory,” Gupta added.

A senior official of the South MCD said, “Till recently, the MCD facilities had a capacity to perform 95 funerals as per COVID protocol per day. This has now been increased to 360. We have also reorganised our structure on the basis of which hospital will be sending bodies to which facilities to ensure people are not forced to wait. Now, bodies from Lok Nayak Hospital will be sent to Nigambodh Ghat instead of Punjabi Bagh. There are clear instructions not to refuse anyone.”

Out of Delhi’s 13 cremation grounds, 4 graveyards and 1 cemetery, a total of 6 cremation grounds, 4 burial grounds and 1 cemetery have been authorised to conduct the last rites of COVID-19 positive or suspected cases. Protocols issued by the centre have to be strictly followed in these reserved crematoriums. The option of wood-based cremations as per COVID protocol have been allowed by the MCDs at 6 new places – Inder Puri, Mangolpuri, Beri Wala Bagh, Seemapuri, Wazirpur and Ghazipur cremation grounds.

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