ROURKELA: AT Vedvyas crematorium here, funeral of the dead demands a price - high cost of the scarce firewood which leads to a painstaking delay. But people have no choice and they are made to go through the pangs of desperation for the final rites of their loved ones.
Owing to short supply from the saw mill of Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC) at Sector 21 in the city, people have to pay up Rs 2,500-Rs 2,600 for 2.5 quintal of firewood (excluding transportation cost) against Rs 800, the subsidised price at which it is made available by Vedvyas Trust Board (VTB). The firewood is being supplied by private saw mills. What’s worse is that cremations at the facility are getting delayed by three-four hours. Around 12 bodies are cremated at Vedvayas daily.
Social activist, Gourav Singh said the family of an elderly woman who died on December 28, unable to bear the cost of firewood, sought help from him. While another social activist, Krishna Sahu arranged a hearse to bring the woman’s body to the crematorium, he had to procure firewood from a private saw mill, located four km away, for Rs 2,600 per 2.5 quintal. The firewood was brought to the crematorium in an ambulance and the body cremated after a wait of four hours.
Sahu said after Rourkela ADM and VTB secretary Aboli Sunil Naravane intervened in the matter, around 50 quintal firewood was brought to the VTB depot on December 28 and the stock is almost exhausted.
Former VTB secretary Anupam Ray said unavailability of firewood is a matter of concern for the bereaved families and those with limited means are the worst hit.
Meanwhile, Naravane said adequate stock of firewood is available at Vedvyas. She said another crematorium is being constructed by Rourkela Municipal Corporation in the city with technology that would require less firewood for cremation of bodies.