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After reports of overcharging, Chandigarh municipal corporation announces free cremation for poor victims of Covid

Civic body contractor doubles up as pandit at cremation ground.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 13, 2021 10:47:35 am
After inquiries were made from the civic body about overcharging, the Municipal Corporation announced that it will bear the cremation charges for “poor and needy people who die of Covid”.(Representational)

A Municipal Corporation contractor who was awarded the contract for providing irrigation hydrants in various parks of the civic body does double duty as ‘pandit’ who carries out the cremation of coronavirus victims in Chandigarh.

It was in 2019 that Deen Dyal Tripathi was awarded the contract of hydrants by the horticulture wing. It was a lucky year for him, for he also managed to bag the contract for running the Industrial Area cremation ground, which is now dedicated to the last rites of Covid victims.

But of late, Tripathi has been caught in a controversy after some people accused him of overcharging from the grief-stricken family members.

Jitender Dhami, a resident of Sector 37 whose sister-in-law passed away due to Covid, said he was charged Rs 6500 for cremation at the Industrial Area, Phase 1, against the usual charge of Rs 3000.

“They charged me Rs 3000 for wooden logs, Rs 2000 for samagri, Rs 500 for the pandit, and Rs 1000 for labour. Also, they wanted the payment at the entry itself. Is this the right way to treat someone who is already in so much pain,” he asked.

A senior official in the horticulture wing said Tripathi is well-known in the MC and administration circles.“He has not just worked for us, he was given some work by the public health wing too.”

Tripathi, the contractor-cum-pandit, however, says “I am doing seva…which should be recognised by all.”

“It goes to my credit that I know everything. If I am a government contractor and I know how to perform the last rites, what is the harm? What is the harm if I am a pandit. In such times, I have been cremating Covid bodies. Can anyone else do it?,” he said.

Tripathi denied that people were being overcharged. “My agency was given the tender of running the cremation ground of Industrial Area after nobody came forward three times.”

After inquiries were made from the civic body about overcharging, the Municipal Corporation announced that it will bear the cremation charges for “poor and needy people who die of Covid”. This was decided by Mayor Ravi Kant Sharma and MC Commissioner K.K. Yadav during a visit to the cremation grounds at Manimajra, Industrial Area Phase-1 and Sector 25. “This payment will made out of Covid cess,” said a statement issued by the civic body.

The team also asked the Medical Officer of Health to display boards listing the cremation charges, along with MC phone number for any kind of assistance or complaint.

The Mayor asked the MOH to waive off the charges of Rs. 30 per body at the LPG crematorium in Sector 25 during the pandemic.

During the visit to Manimajra cremation ground, the Mayor asked the sanitary staff to maintain proper cleanliness in the compound.

The MC team was apprised by pandits at the cremation grounds that Rs.3000 is charged for cremation and Rs. 1200 for samagri for the bodies of Covid patients and Rs. 1500 for the others.

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