New gas furnaces at Shanthikavadam

A staggering increase in daily deaths due to the second wave is adversely affecting the cremation of corpses in the district.

Published: 01st May 2021 06:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st May 2021 06:44 AM   |  A+A-

Ambulance with corpses waiting in front of Shanthikavadam crematorium at Thycaud in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday | B P Deepu

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The waiting time at the district’s crematoriums is increasing proportionally to the spike in Covid deaths. Authorities are upgrading the Shantikavadam crematorium to keep up with demand. Mayor Arya Rajendran inaugurated the new furnaces

A staggering increase in daily deaths due to the second wave is adversely affecting the cremation of corpses in the district. With increasing number of  daily Covid deaths, the waiting time at crematoriums is also increasing. Anticipating high demand, the civic authorities have expedited trial run and made the recently installed gas furnaces at Shanthikavadam — the electric crematorium operated by the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation — operational. Mayor Arya Rajendran inaugurated the new gas furnaces at Shanthikavadam on Friday.

The death toll is expected to hit 1,000 in the district.“There has been unusual rush in the past few days. We are flooded with enquiries seeking time slots for cremation. Right now, we have no options to cremate the body on the same day. We are getting more requests than we can accomodate,” said an official at Shanthikavadam. 

According to officials, the civic body will use traditional wooden pyres to cremate bodies of Covid positive people. The health department has recommended using traditional wooden pyre to ride over the crisis and reduce the waiting period for cremation. 

Currently, 12 bodies can be cremated daily in two furnaces. According to officials, 90 per cent of the deaths happening at the Medical College Hospital (MCH) are cremated at Shanthikavadam and bodies are being brought even from the panchayat and neighbouring districts. Now, there is upto 24 hours delay in cremations due to increase in demand. 

“A large majority of the bodies coming in are of Covid deaths. The trial runs of the gas furnaces have been completed and they are functional now. We will be able to cremate 24 bodies daily starting this week,” said the official. There are four wooden pyres at Shanthikavadam.

Corporation secretary Binu Francis said that people have stopped cremating bodies on their home premises, putting pressure on crematoriums. “The new gas furnace will be able to cremate a body in less than 2.5 hours. The demand for traditional wooden pyre is very less.

We are thinking of using wooden pyres if the demand goes up but people are apprehensive about using them for Covid-related deaths, which has to change. We will be able to cremate 16 more bodies daily using wooden pyres. In many other places it’s being used widely for cremations,” Binu added.


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