New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid the country reeling under an unprecedented COVID-19 wave and the states witnessing their highest-ever spikes of cases and deaths, crematoriums are also seeing a huge rush since the last one week.

The alarming spike in daily cases and fatalities has not only highlighted the shortage of health infrastructure, but also led to long waiting periods at crematoriums in Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and several other states.

Reports from local media have been showing furnaces at crematoriums running non-stop as bodies continue to pile up, waiting for their return.

Though Hindus generally do not cremate the dead after sunset, many of them are left with no option but to perform the last rites of the deceased at night in view of the rush of bodies at various crematoriums.

Media reports suggest that cremations at Delhi’s Nigambodh Ghat have gone up from 15 per day to over 30 as COVID-19-related fatalities continue to rise alarmingly. On Monday, the national capital reported 104 deaths, the highest since November 20.

“We arrived here at 8:30 am. Our turn has not come yet. The situation is very bad. Two-three dead bodies are being brought in each ambulance,” Gautam, who lost his grandfather, was quoted by News18 as saying.

As per the official figures, the virus has claimed 513 lives in Delhi in the first 14 days of April. Notably, the COVID-related death toll in the national capital in March was 117 and 57 in February.

However, Amantullah Khan, the chairman of Delhi Waqf Board which runs several graveyards in the city, said there was no scarcity of land for burials so far. Meanwhile, North Delhi mayor Jai Prakash said he has written a letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking his help for arranging land for burials. 

In Gujarat's, relatives of COVID-19 victims as well as those who died of other ailments are forced to wait for hours for performing the last rites as many crematoriums in the state are witnessing a huge rush.

Two days back, around 25 bodies were cremated simultaneously on wood pyres at night in a crematorium in Umra area of Surat city.

In Vadodara also, people were forced to cremate the deceased during night due to the huge rush at some crematoriums, Vadodara Municipal Corporation's standing committee chairman Hitendra Patel told PTI.

In Ahmedabad city, relatives of some of the deceased claimed they had to wait for over eight hours for cremation. Huge rush was seen at Vadaj and Dudheshwar crematoriums, two of the major facilities in the city, in the last couple of days.

Meanwhile, eight bodies of COVID-19 victims were cremated on one pyre due to a shortage of space at a makeshift crematorium in Maharashtra's Beed district. Since residents had opposed the cremation of bodies of COVID-19 patients at crematoriums in Ambajogai town, local authorities had to identify another place away from there to perform the victims' last rites and space there was limited.

In Madhya Pradesh's Indore, the surge in COVID deaths has led to facilities being upgraded at a crematorium to allow more corpses to be consigned to flames every day.

An employee of Indore city's regional park "muktidham" (crematorium) said there were facilities for 12 pyres, which has now been increased to 35, while space has also been earmarked in the premises for another 15 due to the emergency caused by the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

"It means now we can cremate 50 bodies at the same time. Incidentally, from morning to afternoon on Tuesday, 15 corpses were brought here, and last rites of 12 had to be carried out as per COVID-19 protocol," the staffer said.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta