A burning issue

Published: 16th November 2018 10:06 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th November 2018 09:53 AM   |  A+A-

Pics  Albin Mathew/The cylinders used for the furnace

Express News Service

KOCHI: Think Panampilly Nagar, one pictures elite residential complexes aligned with just the right dose of greenery and walkways. Situated near the spot is the Ravipuram crematorium, dating back to more than 30 years. Currently, it includes both, the traditional pyre and LPG-based facility. In 2011, the Cochin Rotary Club had allotted funds to modernise the existing set-up. The renovated facility included the gas-based convenience along with the traditional firewood pyre. Five years since the upgrade, there are few takers for the pollution-free measure. 

“The idea was a pollution-free Panampilly Nagar. But, the greatest challenge we face now is that the introduction and usage of greener alternatives are not widely accepted. We have decided to get more takers for the gas-based crematorium,” said Narayana Moorthy, former president of the Cochin Rotary Club. 

The Rotary Club had also decided to venture into the solar energy and biogas-run facility the same year. However, with few takers opting for the gas-based crematorium, authorities concerned feel it is pointless to upgrade. “People still believe in conventional practices. The firewood-based facility is mostly preferred despite it being a direct factor to the rising pollution levels,” said Reji Chacko, member of the Rotary Club. 

The LPG furnace 

The rising number of crematoriums across the city is another reason for fewer bodies at each crematorium. “Nowadays, we get about two-three bodies in a month, those opting for the pyre. This was not the case a while ago. More number of crematoriums might have divided the number equally albeit, it is the traditional method they use, thereby polluting the air. Gas-based crematoriums filter out the ash through water,” said Chandran, caretaker, Ravipuram crematorium. Among the eight crematoriums in the city, Pachalam and Ravipuram comprise the LPG furnace crematorium.

When questioned if the Rotary Club had approached the authorities for the shift to eco-friendly measures, Reji said, “The Under-17 Football practice was held at the ground nearby. At that time, we were asked to solely depend on the gas-based crematorium as minute particles of ash disperse through the air. After the tournament, things went back to normal.”

Residents believe that beliefs can hinder progress. “Before a traditional cremation, trees have to be felled, and after the cremation, it causes pollution. People are aware but they do not want to give it much thought as we respect all religions and do not want to issues in the name of pollution,” said Arun, a resident.

More LPG furnaces to come up
Despite the state gearing up to adopt eco-friendly practices, the public seems to have forgotten about the afterlife. Adopting a pollution-free stance, the crematorium in Kochi had brought out gas-based facilities to cremate the dead. However, currently, only two crematoriums among the eight have a fully-functioning LPG-based facility, the Ravipuram and Pachalam crematorium. An LPG-based crematorium has been recently set up at the Edapally crematorium.

When the Pullepady crematorium was renovated in 2003, it included two LPG furnaces and one traditional firewood pyre. But, the gas-based facilities developed technical glitches. Contractors say that regardless of the introduction of a pollution-free facility, it will take a while to educate people about opting the former over a traditional one.  “Awareness must be inculcated in the public. We are also thinking of developing a second LPG-based crematorium at the Ravipuram,” said Reji Chacko, member, Rotary Club.

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