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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Ensure strict Covid curbs, erect electric crematoriums: Bombay HC to state, civic bodies

The HC noted that trees were being felled indiscriminately and wood used for funeral pyres was being sold at exorbitant prices.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
May 3, 2021 8:53:45 pm
Ensure strict Covid curbs, erect electric crematoriums: Bombay HC to state, civic bodiesPeople argue with a health worker after COVID-19 vaccine stock got over at a vaccination center, in Nagpur, Sunday, May 2, 2021. (PTI Photo)

The Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench on Monday asked the municipal and district authorities from Marathwada and North Maharashtra under its jurisdiction, along with police, to ensure strict implementation of Covid-19 restrictions by residents and politicians, “optimum and uniform” distribution of medical oxygen and remdesivir injections and erection of electric crematoriums to perform final rites of Covid-19 victims among others.

A division bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge and Justice Bhalchandra U Debadwar was hearing a suo motu PIL, initiated on the basis of news reports to address issues like funeral rites of Covid-19 patients, shortage of medical oxygen supply and black marketing of remdesivir among others.

“You (authorities) will have to ensure not only citizens are following discipline but people’s representatives from Aurangabad should lead by example. Public at large looks up to them…You must realise offenders must fear the law. Have you achieved that situation? Are citizens scared of coming out based on actions taken by you?” HC asked the state government lawyer.

Advocate S G Chapalgaonkar for the Aurangabad civic authority said there was not a single electric or LPG crematorium in the city and added that it is extremely costly to erect electric crematoriums, while LPG ones are cost effective and easy to maintain.

The HC said, “Learn from experience of Israel. It was first to purchase vaccines for double rates and react to the situation. They administered nearly 90 % of their population with vaccines and did not need nationwide lockdown. They spent more on purchasing vaccines but they saved by not imposing lockdown. Similarly, spending on electric crematoriums is necessary in long run than chopping of wood for lighting funeral pyres.”

The court suggested that various civic and district authorities should appeal industrial establishments and multinational companies, which have provisions for corporate social responsibility funds, to utilise them to support the cause of erecting electric/LPG crematoriums and asked the authorities to state their position on the same.

The HC noted that trees were being felled indiscriminately and wood used for funeral pyres was being sold at exorbitant prices.

“Chopping firewood to light funeral pyre is disastrous to nature and larger interest would be served by saving natural resources and the same would be done by converting from the normal conventional methods to electric/LPG crematoriums,” the HC observed.

The court asked the authorities to consult medical experts and inform as to whether they can “authoritatively advice” to the medical fraternity in Maharashtra to refrain from over-insistence on remdesivir injections and fall back on alternative medicines to avoid black marketing of drugs.

The HC will hear the PIL next on May 6.

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