The Delhi government Friday submitted in the Delhi High Court that undisposed bodies of those who died of Covid-19 in a hospital was due to a “sudden spike in cases and related deaths” in the national capital.
Delhi government’s Additional Standing Counsel Sanjoy Ghose contended before the High Court that the issue was also the result of unavoidable circumstances, like workers at the crematorium refusing to handle the bodies. He also flagged that such a situation arose due to a reduced capacity at Nigambodh Ghat to handle bodies on account of snags in furnaces.
The Delhi government made its submission before a bench headed by Chief Justice D N Patel, which was hearing a PIL initiated on its own after taking cognizance of a news report that inside the Covid-19 mortuary of Lok Nayak Hospital, there are 108 bodies — all 80 storage racks are full and there are 28 bodies on the floor, piled on top of each other.
A different bench Thursday had ordered registering the issue as a PIL and listed it before the Chief Justice’s bench for issuance of requisite directions.
Ghose also apprised the bench that “relatives (of the deceased) were refusing to come forward to claim the bodies”.
The Delhi government counsel submitted that urgent steps were taken to remedy the situation, including “Lok Nayak being authorised to divert bodies to crematoriums at Panchkuian Road and Punjabi Bagh, as opposed to only Nigambodh Ghat”.
“Wood-based cremation of bodies by traditional method is also allowed, in addition to electric and CNG furnaces. PPE kits for all workers, as well as for the dead bodies. Extension of working hours of crematoriums 7 am to 10 pm (as opposed to 9 am to 4 pm),” he submitted. The counsel further informed the court that final rites of 29 bodies were carried out as of May 28.
“Only those bodies will be retained where post-mortem/investigations are to be carried out,” he submitted, and assured the High Court that all steps are being taken to avoid such circumstances in the future.
The bench directed the Delhi government and the three municipal corporations to file a status report before June 2, when it will be taken up for further hearing. The counsel for the MCDs maintained that adequate steps are being taken in this regard.
The court had also taken note of a news report that on May 26, eight bodies were returned from Nigambodh Ghat’s CNG crematorium because the facility was not in a position to accept more bodies as only two of the six furnaces were working.
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