Crematoriums in Bhopal struggle as COVID-19 deaths mount; questions raised on offical figures
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the gap between official figures and the bodies coming for a funeral is because the funeral of suspected patients is also being done as per COVID-19 protocols
Bhopal: The apparent spike in deaths caused due to COVID-19 has resulted in crematoriums and burial grounds in Bhopal struggling to dispose of bodies as these facilities have started facing several issues, including that of space crunch.
The number of bodies being brought to the crematoriums or burial grounds has been witnessing a surge over the last few days, say the operators of these establishments.
"In the last four days, we have cremated 200 bodies, including those that needed to be disposed of as per COVID-19 protocols. Now, we have created a new such facility on two acres of land," said Mamtesh Sharma, secretary of the management committee of Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat, one of the biggest Hindu crematoriums in the state capital.
"The situation is explosive. As many as 58 bodies, including 47 that needed to be disposed of as per COVID-19 guidelines, were cremated on Tuesday, while on Wednesday, more than 50 bodies were cremated so far and more are coming," he told PTI.
The Bhadbhada Vishram Ghat management committee has created additional space on two acres of land space for the cremation of bodies as per COVID-19 protocols.
"We have created additional space for 30 pyres in the adjoining open plot...There is no other crematorium in the country to have such a dedicated space (for the cremation of COVID-19 victims)," Sharma said, adding that another additional space for 20 pyres will be created in the next two-three days.
Sharma said that earlier there was space for the cremation of 20-22 bodies at this Vishram Ghat.
"But due to the spike in the number of bodies coming to the Vishram Ghat, the management committee is telling the family members of the deceased to collect the ashes the next day," he said.
Talking to PTI, Shobhraj Sukhwani, manager of Subhash Nagar Vishram Ghat, said that more than 40 bodies are being brought there every day for cremation since the past one week.
"We are using the land of a park for the cremation as we have run out of space," he said, adding that a total of 34 bodies were cremated by Wednesday afternoon.
Of these, 16 to 17 were cremated as per the COVID-19 protocols, he said.
A similar situation is prevailing in Jhada Kabristan, a Muslim graveyard, in the state capital.
"The situation is deteriorating. An average of seven to eight bodies are coming for cremation, including those needed to buried as per COVID-19 protocols, in addition to those with normal death," said Rehan Golden, chairman of the cemetery's management committee.
In May last year, the Jhada graveyard had arranged at least 10 ready-to-use graves for speedy burials of COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, questions are being raised on the official figure of COVID-19 deaths.
According to government figures, ten persons died in Bhopal due to coronavirus infection between 9 to 13 April.
However, replying to a query by a TV channel on the apparent gap between the official figures and the bodies coming for a funeral at the crematoriums, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said this difference is because the funeral of suspected coronavirus patients is also being done as per COVID-19 protocols.
"People are dying due to other causes also," he said.
When asked about it, Minister for Medical Education Vishvas Sarang told reporters that patients from several other districts are coming to Bhopal for treatment of coronavirus , among other things.
"This is getting reflected in the situation at the crematoriums," he said.
Bhopal's COVID-19 death toll till Monday night was 649, while the case count was 58,951.
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