Delhi government hopes to give new lease of life to city’s mortuaries

Astha Saxena
As per the plan, each mortuary will be expanded to thrice its size to accommodate unidentified corpses, which pile up for post-mortem. (Representational Image)

From hiring a hearse van for every mortuary to allocating more space for burials — the Delhi government is set to upgrade the city’s mortuaries.

In a meeting held in September, the health department discussed several issues red flagged during the hearing of a public interest litigation in Delhi High Court last year.

As per the plan, each mortuary will be expanded to thrice its size to accommodate unidentified corpses, which pile up for post-mortem.“We have been working to expand facilities at all mortuaries. The decisions have been taken to increase the number of beds in each mortuary. We will also hire specialists in every hospital to deal with the cases,” Sanjeev Khirwar, secretary (Health), Delhi government, told The Indian Express.

As a pilot project, the state health department will move a proposal to start computerised post-mortem reports. The city’s largest mortuary at Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital has been handed the responsibility of implementing the idea and replicating it at other mortuaries.

The hospital will also purchase hearse vans and will outsource fleet operations. “The process will be similar to that of CATS ambulance services. At present, there will be one hearse van for each district,” said Khirwar.

As part of the revamp, a high-definition 4K video-recorder will be procured for each autopsy table. Additionally, the requirement of a deep freezer, drying cabinet and waiting hall facilities will be met by the Public Works Department (PWD). A special display board will also be put in place for the public.

In 2015, a report submitted in the Delhi HC highlighted several deficiencies in the city mortuaries. The report stated that the mortuaries are functioning without adequate cooling chambers, and with corpses lying unattended on rickety tables. It also said that those working in the morgues had life-expectancy below the national average, due to unhygienic conditions in their workplaces.

In May, the health department agreed with the recommendation made by the HC-appointed amicus curiae to install CCTV cameras in mortuary premises to strengthen security.