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Delhi's Nigam Bodh Ghat: Heatwave Or Pandemic Peak, Which Saw More Cremations?

The sweltering heatwave sweeping through Delhi has led to an alarming increase in the number of deaths, with crematoriums across the national capital witnessing a surge in the number of bodies being cremated. Nigam Bodh Ghat, one of the city’s major cremation grounds, has reported a significant rise in the number of cremations this season, […]

Delhi's Nigam Bodh Ghat: Heatwave Or Pandemic Peak, Which Saw More Cremations?
Delhi's Nigam Bodh Ghat: Heatwave Or Pandemic Peak, Which Saw More Cremations?

The sweltering heatwave sweeping through Delhi has led to an alarming increase in the number of deaths, with crematoriums across the national capital witnessing a surge in the number of bodies being cremated. Nigam Bodh Ghat, one of the city’s major cremation grounds, has reported a significant rise in the number of cremations this season, surpassing figures seen since the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On June 19, a record 142 bodies were cremated at Nigam Bodh Ghat, the highest single-day figure since the pandemic, when 253 bodies were cremated in a single day. This number is a stark contrast to the average of 60 bodies cremated daily at the site. Typically, during winters, the number of cremations ranges between 60 and 90 per day. However, the extreme heat has caused a spike in the death toll, leading to unprecedented numbers.

In recent days, the crematorium has been handling 70 to 90 bodies daily. For instance, on June 14, 43 bodies were cremated; on June 15, the number rose to 53; on June 16, it escalated to 70; and on June 17, it was 54. The figures then surged dramatically to 97 on June 18 and reached 142 on June 19.

“This has never happened before that the death count reached 90 during summers, even though it is common during winters. The extreme heat has not only surpassed our figures in the last winter but has also posed challenges in the cremation process,” said Suman Gupta, the in-charge of Nigam Bodh Ghat.

While the crematorium has 120 platforms and six CNG machines to handle the bodies, different communities’ varying funeral rites have made the simultaneous cremation of 142 bodies a significant challenge.

As of June 19, a total of 1,101 bodies had been cremated at Nigam Bodh Ghat this month. With the current trend, the total for June 2024 could surpass the 1,570 cremations recorded in June 2022. For comparison, 1,319 bodies were cremated in June 2023, and 1,210 in June 2021.

The deadly heatwave continues to grip Delhi, and officials are urging residents to take precautions to protect themselves from the extreme temperatures. The city’s healthcare infrastructure and cremation facilities are under severe strain, highlighting the urgent need for measures to mitigate the impact of such extreme weather events in the future.

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CremationsdeathsDelhiHeatwaveNigam Bodh GhatPandemic PeakTDGThe Daily Guardian