COVID-19: Overloaded, uninterrupted pyres force Delhi civic bodies to employ more cremationists in most crematoriums
By Joymala Bagchi
New Delhi, April 29, 2021 (ANI): Amid rising COVID-19 cases and deaths in the national capital, all 26 crematoriums of Delhi are inundated with bodies and following the workload, most crematoriums have increased numbers of cremationists or helping hands to four, revising the existing capacity to at least thrice. The multiplication of workers in the crematoriums in Delhi has been done to keep pace with the sudden surge in funeral pyres caused due to inconceivable gush in the COVID-19 outbreak.
Crematoriums with added helping hands are also making makeshift pyres to cope up with the queue.
The scenario continues to stay grim and even with the added deployment of helping hands in crematoriums and makeshift pyres, bereaved families of deceased are awaiting their turn to cremate.
A letter in this regard has been issued by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation under strict compliance that reads, "All the S/ASts are hereby directed to deploy 2 to 4 Sks in the cremation ground under their jurisdiction to make the proper sanitation condition and SKs will watch and ward over the function of concessionaire le. DDSIL for the collection and disposal of PPE Kits daily if they found any laxity with intimate to the undersigned immediately."
PPE kits are also found lying uncovered/ unwrapped outside crematoriums hence strict order was given in this regard.
"SKs will also ensure to arrange the two bins inside the cremation ground for the collection of PPE kits," the letter reads.
In Sarai Kale Khan crematorium, due to long queues, cremations are being done in temporary space. Authorities here informed that they are on the lookout for other vacant places too for cremation.
KC Bhardwaj, a sanitary superintendent (central zone) SDMC under whom eight crematoriums operate, told ANI, "Work pressure is exhausting and the atmosphere is dismal at crematoriums now. We are trying our best to cope up with the ongoing scenario. Have also increased the employees up to four in all eight crematoriums that I am looking after."
Nigamboud Ghat that earlier used to cremate 50 to 60 bodies now cremates at least 250 bodies on each day before it closes its gate at 8 pm but pyres continue to burn till 11 pm.
Suman Kumar Gupta, Chief coordinator, Nigamboudh Ghat (Aggarwal Samaj) told, "The burden is extreme and the scenes at crematoriums are pathetic. Here, the queue goes long that one has to wait for even eight hours and that is obvious because instead of 50/60 like earlier, now at least 250 bodies are coming for cremation."
Nigamboudh Ghat, the largest and the busiest crematorium in the national capital, has also increased its contractual labourers to cope up with the ongoing requirement.
PPE kit is being provided to each and everyone and sanitisation is being done at periodic intervals in every crematorium. However, workers keep on getting infected.
Photographs of uninterrupted cremations from Delhi appearing on national dailies and television are hitting international headlines daily.
In the last 24 hours, according to the union health ministry, India reported 3,79,257 new covid cases, 3645 deaths, and 2,69,507 discharges.
The cumulative death toll since COVID-19 deaths were counted rests at 2,04,832 with 67,214 deaths officially recorded in Maharashtra, followed by Delhi 15,377 and Karnataka 15,036.
In the last 24 hours, Delhi reported 25,986 positive COVID-19 cases and 368 related deaths. However, with hospitals mostly swamped by patients in need of either bed or oxygen support, funeral pyres burning and unrest at crematoriums, many believe that the actual number of casualty is undercounted.
When contacted UT officials remained unresponsive. (ANI)