Nigambodh Ghat in Delhi
NEW DELHI: The staff and priests at the four crematoria in the city have threatened a boycott fearing for their safety as the municipal corporations have allowed wood pyres for cremating coronavirus patients.
The new order was issued on Tuesday for Nigambodh Ghat near Jamuna Bazaar, Punjabi Bagh near Ring Road, Karkardooma ground near Karakari Mor and PK Road cremation ground at Rani Jhansi Road. Two of these facilities fall under North Delhi Municipal Corporation, while one each are under south and east corporations.
So far, only CNG furnaces at Nigambodh Ghat and Punjabi Bagh were being used for cremation of deceased Covid-positive and suspected patients. Even in the new order, preference has been given to CNG and electric units.
An SDMC official said the bodies are cremated at such a high temperature that they don’t pose a risk to anybody. However, the staff and managers at the facilities, most of which are run by NGOs, were not convinced and refused to take part in the process on the first day.
The manager at the Punjabi Bagh facility said, “There are 26 workers at the facility, four of whom threatened to quit on Tuesday.” Nigambodh Ghat has 150 workers and Karkardooma four.
“Wood-based cremations should be allowed only in open areas in outer Delhi. Why did the government allow such funerals only at four facilities?” asked the manager at Nigambodh Ghat, which receives 15-16 bodies of coronavirus patients daily.
On Tuesday, the staff and priests at Nigambodh Ghat refused to work. “They said they will stop entering the ground if all Covid and non-Covid bodies are processed at the same place,” the manager added.
At Karkardooma, no PPE kits were provided to the staff and they were scared to carry out cremation in the open. “Unlike CNG units, if cremation is carried out on a wooden pyre, the body is exposed to the air. employees don’t have provisions of compensation and insurance in case we get infected,” said a worker.
Am EDMC spokesperson said CNG furnaces were preferred due to the closed environment. “However, there is no harm in wood-based cremation. The chances of the virus escaping in the atmosphere are non-existent,” he added.