The three municipal corporations of Delhi said on Thursday that “there have been 2,098 funerals of Covid-19 positive patients” at the designated crematoriums and burial grounds under their jurisdiction so far. The last rites of an additional “over 200 suspected cases” were also held as per the Covid-19 protocol, they said.
This is almost double the death toll released by the Delhi government, which stood at 1,085 on Thursday.
Responding to the figure released by the three MCDs, the Delhi government said in a statement: “The Delhi government has set up a Death Audit Committee comprising senior doctors who are working impartially towards assessing deaths caused by coronavirus. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court has also declared that the Death Audit Committee is working in an appropriate manner and that the work of the committee cannot be questioned. We believe that not even a single life must be lost to coronavirus. This is a time to unite and save the lives of the people. This is not the time to make allegations after allegations, we all have to fight this pandemic together and ensure that not a single life is lost due to coronavirus.”
Earlier in the day, addressing a joint press conference by mayors and standing committee heads of the North, South and East Delhi Municipal Corporations, South MCD standing committee head Bhupendar Gupta said: “There have been 2,098 funerals of Covid-positive patients in Delhi, out of which 1,080 are in South corporation, 976 in North corporation and 42 in East corporation.” Gupta said that in the case of Covid-19 deaths, hospitals refer the relatives to the cremation or burial grounds. “A doctor’s certificate, which says either positive or suspected for each body, is given. It is on this basis that we say there have been 2,098 deaths of confirmed cases,” he said.
Jai Prakash, standing committee head of North MCD, said apart from the 2,098 confirmed cases, there were “over 200 suspected cases” in which the last rites were conducted as per Covid-19 protocol. “There are 77 suspected cases in North, 123 in South and 40 in East corporation,” he said.
The last rites of Covid-19 patients, as well as those suspected to have the disease, have to follow the same protocol.
Gupta said he was ready to present data to back his claims before a nodal officer appointed either by the Delhi government or the Lieutenant-Governor. “I don’t know which audit committee report Delhi government is basing its figures on,” he said.
Delhi has 13 cremation grounds, four burial grounds and a cemetery under the jurisdiction of its municipal corporations. Of these, six cremation grounds, four burial grounds and a cemetery are authorised to conduct the last rites of Covid-19 positive or suspected cases. However, due to lack of space or opposition from people in the area, not all allow the funerals.
All three municipal corporations in Delhi are ruled by the BJP, and have targeted the AAP-led Delhi government on this issue in the past too.
Earlier, the municipal corporations had told the Delhi government that till May 16, there were 426 cremations or burials at six designated cremation/ burial grounds of “Corona positive” people. At the time, the government’s health bulletin had put the number of Covid-19 deaths in the city at 194.
The Delhi government had said that the corporations had failed to produce supporting documents and reports for each body which they claimed had tested positive. The government had said that after studying the figures and doctors’ reports available, the number declared by the Death Audit Committee was found to be accurate.
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