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Saturday, June 19, 2021

Bengaluru civic authorities use 4 months of firewood stock in 15 days at crematoriums as Covid-19 deaths keep surging

Between May 1 and May 13, Bengaluru city has reported 2,588 Covid-19 deaths.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bengaluru |
Updated: May 14, 2021 10:37:29 pm
The newly established crematorium at a granite quarry in Giddenahalli. (Express Photo)

The firewood that Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) would have used at crematoriums for nearly 4 months in regular times has been exhausted in 15 days.

The reason: high death rate that the city has been witnessing since the second wave of the pandemic Karnataka. Between May 1 and May 13, Bengaluru city has reported 2,588 Covid-19 deaths.

Officials at BBMP said it has spent nearly 1,000 tonnes of wood in the last 15 days to burn pyres. As such, a few electric crematoriums in the city have also turned defunct.

The civic body used the 1,100 tonnes of wood it had stored in five depots after open crematoriums in Tavarekere and in a granite quarry in Giddenahalli in the outskirts of the city were set up.

Family members and relatives attend the last rites of Covid-19 victims at the T R Mills crematorium in Bengaluru. (PTI)

The civic body now is buying wood from Karnataka State Forest Industrial Corporation Limited (KSFIC), paying Rs 4,300 per tonne, officials informed.

According to them, every day, at least 80 tonnes of wood is being supplied to the two newly established crematoriums.

BBMP usually collects wood whenever trees are cut during the rainy season or when trees get dry during summer. “Usually, these woods are auctioned once in every three months and brick kiln owners and garment manufacturers are our major customers,” BBMP officials said.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, HS Ranganathaswamy, Deputy Conservator of Forest, said, “Majorly, the trees found in Bengaluru are of softwood variety. Hence, it takes more of this wood to burn a body as it has less calorific value. Trees like Nilgiris, Prosopis Juliflora (Ballari Jaali Mara) and Indian Beech Tree (Honge Mara) have high calorific value but are not available in the city.”

He added, “The Deputy Commissioner (Bengaluru urban) J Manjunath has directed us to provide wood for cremating the dead bodies after their stock got exhausted.”

Ranganathaswamy informed that they are now getting Nilgiris from KSFIC and to date, they have supplied about 450 tonnes of wood. “We will not have any problems till June and have sought help from the state forest department and they have responded positively,” he added.

Both Geddanahalli and Tavarekere are located to the west of Bengaluru, about 6 kilometres apart and have been receiving between 100 to 150 bodies each from Bengaluru city every day.

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