Ensure smooth supply of firewood to crematoriums, North MCD mayor urges Kejriwal

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New Delhi, Apr 28 (PTI) With municipal-run crematoriums facing a shortage of wood for funeral pyres in the face of surging Covid-19 fatalities, North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash Wednesday urged Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to direct the forest department to ensure smooth supply of firewood to these facilities.

The mayor also demanded that at least 100 hearse vans or ambulance be made available to municipal corporations to transport patients to available healthcare facilities or take unfortunate ones who couldn't survive to the cremation ground for last rites.

The national capital has reported 4,063 Covid-19 deaths in April so far, over 2,500 of them in the past seven days alone in the terrorising second wave of the pandemic. In all of February, the death toll was 57, and in March 117.

'As you are aware that the number of deaths due to COVID-19 is on the rise and to cremate the bodies in the traditional manner a large amount of wood is required. This is to request you to direct the forest department to ensure steady supply of firewood to these crematoriums without fail,' Prakash said in his letter to Kejriwal.

'Due to increase in number of casualties because of COVID he situation is getting worst day-by-day. Moreover there is hardly any facility available for deaths occurring at home,' he added.

The mayor said that North MCD had the capacity to cremate 230 bodies till April 15, but within 10-12 days it was raised to 570.

'Three new cremation grounds have been developed besides increasing the capacity of existing ones. Out of total 570, 304 wooden and 54 CNG pyres are fixed for COVID deaths. Rest are for non COVID deaths.

'We are transforming ourselves as per need of the hour. We developed Covid care facility for about 300 patients in two of the major hospitals -- Hindu Rao Hospital and RBIPMT. Third hospital Balak Ram is also being prepared as another facility,' he said. As Covid-19 wreaks havoc, there is a queue not just at the hospitals, but also at crematoriums. Such is the flow of the bodies that crematoriums have started building additional platforms to accommodate them.

Prakash added in his letter to Kejriwal, 'Kindly give appropriate directions to the forest department so that the crematoriums can continue doing their work uninterrupted and the bereaved families are not put into any kind of trouble.' Shaking Delhi's spirit and soul, an unimaginable tragedy is unfolding at Delhi's crematoriums struggling to cope with the deluge of the dead arriving at frightening pace, prompting the staff at crematoriums to start building additional platforms to accommodate them.

Delhi recorded a record 381 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, while the positivity rate stood at 32.72 per cent, according to the latest bulletin issued by the city health department. This was the sixth day on the trot that Delhi has recorded over 300 deaths due to coronavirus. PTI GJS GJS TIR TIR