The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday told the Bombay High Court that it was taking adequate safety measures and scrupulously following the guidelines prescribed for the safe disposal of bodies of persons who died due to COVID-19.
The civic body was responding to a petition filed by former journalist Ketan Tirodkar, which alleged that there were several lapses in handling of COVID-19 victims' bodies in crematoriums at Shivaji Park in Dadar, at Sion in central Mumbai and at the Chandanwadi crematorium in south Mumbai.
As per the plea, the staff at these crematoriums are not provided with safety gears like PPE kits, masks and sanitizers. BMC counsel Anil Sakhare told a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice N J Jamadar that the civic body was following the guidelines laid down by the Union government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) for safe disposal of COVID-19 infected bodies.
"The staff at the crematorium and the driver and attendant transporting the bodies from the concerned hospital to the crematorium are provided with safety gears like PPE kits, masks, sanitizers and so on. The staff undergo regular thermal screening and throat swabs are also taken to test for COVID-19," Sakhare told the court.
According to him, COVID-19 infected bodies are disposed of in electric furnaces only. Per day only 20 bodies COVID-19 victims are permitted to be disposed of in a crematorium, he added.
"At the same time, cremation of non-COVID-19 victims' bodies is also being permitted," Sakhare said.
As per the BMC, when a COVID-19 positive patient dies in a hospital then the authorities inform the concerned police and crematorium which then takes all the necessary steps to transport the body from the hospital to the crematorium. "Unclaimed bodies are disposed of by the concerned police station staff," Sakhare said.
The bench, after hearing the submissions made by the BMC, noted that the authorities were scrupulously following the guidelines prescribed for management and safe disposal of bodies infected with COVID-19 and hence no case is made out for the court to interfere.
"BMC and all other authorities shall continue adhering to the guidelines prescribed so that dignity of all citizens is preserved and no citizen is put to any unnecessary risks," the court said while disposing of the petition.