As Gujarat saw 20 deaths due to Covid-19 on Monday — the highest since August — of which 13 were from Ahmedabad city, there were long queues of relatives outside city hospitals to receive the bodies of their dear ones, as well as outside crematoriums.
Ahmedabad does not have any designated crematorium for Covid-19 deaths.
A resident who lost his maternal uncle in his 50s came to the Thaltej crematorium checking about the “waiting period”. His uncle had Covid but died “of a heart condition” at a private hospital, he said.
When informed by the crematorium that three bodies were in waiting, which meant an approxiate wait time of three hours, the resident, accompanied by another relative went looking for other cremation grounds.
“From what we have heard, wherever you go, this is the normal waiting period, if not more. I will now have to consult our family,” the resident told The Indian Express, requesting anonymity.
An administrator of the Thaltej crematorium, which has three CNG furnaces, said, “After Diwali, we have seen 30-40 per cent increase in number of bodies being brought here. Before Diwali, it was 20 bodies a day, and now it is 30 on an average… which goes up further some days…” It takes one hour to cremate a body on CNG furnace.
Bodies of those who died of Covid-19 have to be loaded on to the furnace by family members “while crematorium staff only push the trolley inside”.
A resident from the Drive-in area was also waiting at the Thaltej crematorium for the final rites of a relative. “We are considering the Chandkheda crematorium as we have a contact who may help us,” said the relative of the person who died of non-Covid issues.
The Vadaj crematorium has 11 wood furnaces and two CNG furnaces but on some days, the administrators said there is a prolonged wait that may stretch up to six hours.
On Monday, Ahmedabad city reported 291 cases, and added eight more micro-containment zones, with maximum households contained in the areas of Chandlodia and Gota. Gujarat reported 1,502 new cases.
Chandkheda ward Congress corporator Rajshri Kesari accused the AMC of suppressing the data of Covid-19 cases and said, “Today, Shyam Bungalows was declared as a micro-containment zone in my ward. As of today there are more than 34 cases in this society but as per AMC records there are 10-12 cases.”
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel responded to the allegation, saying, “It is baseless. Every Congress leader is making a different allegation… the spokesperson says one thing and the state president another… They themselves lack unison and accuse on whatever comes to their mind. The state government has been working efficiently and effectively to tackle the Covid situation. We have presented all the facts to the High Court and the Supreme Court. Also information in the form of press notes are shared with the media and public on a daily basis.”
Not only cases in Ahmedabad city but deaths, too, have risen, as indicated by AMC officials and crematorium sites’ officials. AMC has a total of 24 crematorium grounds in its jurisdiction of which 12 are equipped with CNG furnaces and 12 others have wood furnaces. Protocol permits the last rites of a Covid-19 person in only CNG furnaces, which are 24 across the 12 crematoriums.
An AMC official, who did not wish to be on record, admitted that “there has been an increase in the waiting time for the families of deceased since post-Diwali”, although the official could not give an estimate of the data as the official was on leave. The official added, “the Covid-19 deceased patients’ families are given an option to choose their preferred ground and if they feel the waiting period is too long, they can opt to take the body to another site.”
Meanwhile, a “400-bed plus” facility will be inaugurated by the health minister Nitin Patel on Tuesday at the Institute of Kidney Diseases Research Centre campus.
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