The increasing number of Covid-related deaths is putting intense pressure on crematoriums in several parts of the country. Long queues of family members waiting their turn to cremate the bodies of their loved ones can be seen outside crematoriums in several cities. Unable to cope with the flood of bodies triggered by the second wave of infections, many funeral grounds are now planning expansions.
Varanasi’s Ravindra Giri had to wait five hours at Harishchandra Ghat on Friday before he could cremate his relative.
“We have never seen such a sight …we are not even getting wood (for pyre) properly. We finally had to use unfit wood to burn (the body)…had to wait for 4 to 5 hours. We had to beg for our turn,” he told NDTV.
The funeral ground in Varanasi, one of the worst-hit cities in Uttar Pradesh, does not witness these many cremations as Mankarnika Ghat is the main funeral ground. However, the administration has declared Harishchandra Ghat the dedicated site for the cremation of Covid victims.
“I am 48-year-old. I have never seen such a scene in my life. 15-20 bodies are queued up, while another 20-22 bodies are already burning. 10-15 bodies are in queue at the electric crematorium,” a relative told NDTV.
Madhya Pradesh’s capital Bhopal is witnessing similar scenes. The crematoriums and burial grounds in the city are facing a space crunch.
“In the last four days, we have cremated 200 bodies, including those that needed to be disposed of as per COVID-19 protocols. Now, we have created a new such facility on two acres of land,” Mamtesh Sharma, secretary of the management committee of Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat, had told news agency PTI on Wednesday.
In Indore, families are being given token numbers to collect the ashes later.
Meanwhile, a mismatch between the official death count and the records at the crematorium has also been reported in Bhopal.
“The crematorium numbers are much higher than the official data. If reality is presented to the masses, they will be more careful,” Ajay Bishnoi, BJP leader, told NDTV.
Madhya Pradesh’s Medical Education minister Vishwas Sarang denied that the government had been hiding data. “We don’t get any award by concealing the data,” he said.
Not only the crematoriums and burial grounds, but the country’s health infrastructure is also on the verge of collapse because of the Covid caseload. There are shortages of hospital beds, vital medicines and life-saving oxygen in several states.
With inputs from PTI