TUMAKURU: Amidst a surge in COVID-19 deaths, the electric crematorium here has been shut down for three days as it developed a technical snag, forcing bereaved families to switch to the traditional firewood method to cremate bodies.
For the last three days, five out of six deaths in the city have been due to COVID-19 and the bodies were cremated with firewood and kerosene.
This costs Rs 3,000 for each body and Rs 1,000 additionally to an assistant who has to wear the PPE. It's also laborious and time-consuming, said sources.
"It requires 500 kg of firewood, coconut shells and five litres of kerosene," informed Yashoda who is in charge of the graveyard. On the other hand, electric cremation costs Rs 1,000 and is completed within an hour ensuring that other bodies in the queue do not have to undergo a long wait.
There is a pressing need to get the crematorium repaired at the earliest because the cremation of non-COVID cases is also getting affected, observed Nataraju, a volunteer who works as a frontline COVID-19 warrior especially in cremating bodies.
"The blower inside the pipeline connected to the chimney was damaged due to smoke and in a day or two it will be ready as the repair was underway," informed Ramu, who works at the crematorium.
Tumakuru City Corporation commissioner Renuka and mayor Fareeda Begum said action will be taken to set up one more electric crematorium as the city's population has been growing and the mortality rate is also rising due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation.