LUCKNOW/PATNA/BHOPAL: Bodies of Covid patients piling up at cremation grounds have become a nightmare for the authorities. While Bihar is getting defunct electric crematoriums restarted in state capital Patna, in Uttar Pradesh the authorities in Lucknow came up with another solution: to cover up the cremation ground at Bhainsakund with tin sheets.
The cover (see pic) was built a day after videos showing a large number of burning pyres went viral amid allegations of the fatality count being under-reported. The Lucknow municipal authorities on Thursday got the tin sheets put up around the cremation ground’s boundary to block its view from outside. The step was taken keeping in mind people’s safety since it’s a Covid-affected area, they claimed.
Given the huge rush of bodies, people are forced to wait for hours to cremate their dear ones. The Lucknow municipal corporation has decided to open more electric crematoriums and also to keep about 50 pyres ready daily to handle the next day’s rush.
In Patna, too, there is a big queue every day, with exhausted cremation ground workers saying they are not even getting time to have food. The Bihar government has instructed that corona patients must be cremated in electric furnaces alone.
At Bansghat, where the city’s only electric crematorium was operational, Alok Kumar, a worker, said: “About 20-25 bodies are being brought daily.” One body takes 45-60 mins to burn. “25-plus bodies being brought every day means we hardly get any break,” said Niru, 35, another Bansghat worker.
Mismatch in official toll and facts on the ground
Sources said 24 people were cremated to April 12 and 32 on April 13. The municipal corporation opened an electric furnace at Gulbighat for coronainfected bodies on Wednesday night. There also, nine bodies were burnt till Thursday afternoon and several others were in queue. Another one at Khajekalan Ghat is expected to start working on Friday. Patna DM Chandrasekhar Singh said the civic body was directed to make all other defunct electric crematoriums operational in the shortest time.
In Bhopal, Bhadbhada and Subhash Nagar cremation grounds and Jahangirabad graveyard have been designated for the Covid patients’ bodies. While the state health bulletin put the death figures across the state at 51 and 53 on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, caretakers at the thre e c remat ion/bur ial grounds claimed daily 60-70 are being cremated/buried daily in Bhopal alone.
BN Pandey, who lost his brother to the pandemic, recounted the horrors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. “I was a Class IX student in 1984 when we saw bodies everywhere in the cremation grounds. Now I’m seeing a similar horror. I’ve been waiting for my brother’s cremation since morning and have seen 30-40 bodies,” he said.