To ease the load on city crematoriums and reduce pollution, BMC plans to set up eco-friendly wood pyre furnaces. It has recently started work on constructing one such furnace at the crematorium near Sion hospital.
The Covid-19 outbreak has seen the load on the 49 BMC crematoriums increase with bodies piling up – there is currently a wait time of 10-hour for one cremation.
Civic officials said that so far, BMC has identified five locations apart from the Sion crematorium where such eco-friendly wood pyre furnaces can be constructed. While the Worli crematorium will have two such furnaces, one each will be set up on Reay Road, Wadala, Vikhroli and Oshiwara.
These eco-friendly furnaces will cost BMC around Rs 90 lakh for a set of two. The civic body has recently issued an Expression of Interest inviting agencies to execute the work.
Besides the 49 BMC crematoriums, Mumbai also has 20 run by private organisations. There are about 1,000 wood pyres at these crematoriums, said officials.
A senior official from the BMC health department said that with this system, only about 100 kg of wood will be required for each cremation compared to the 250-kg of wood needed currently. Also, the process will be faster, along the line of electric crematoriums.
“The pyre will be covered from all four sides and there will be a chimney about 100-ft tall. Once the body is kept on the trolley, it can be pushed inside the chamber on the pyre. The smoke will be released high up and purified. Since the pyre will be covered from all four sides, the body will be cremated faster when compared to the conventional wood pyre,” an official said, adding that at least 10 bodies can be cremated in 24 hours at one eco-friendly pyre.
Officials said that due to Covid-19, the load on electrical and PNG pyres has increased and only non-Covid-19 bodies are being cremated on normal wood pyres. “This has created lot of load on electric crematoriums, causing disruption and operational issues. The conventional wood pyres are hardly used due to Covid-19 outbreak and pollution issues. These eco-friendly furnaces will help reduce the burden on electric crematoriums,” said an official.
Mumbai has 11 electric crematoriums working round the clock. Many of these are facing problems of overheating since Covid-19 bodies are wrapped in plastic. Complaints pollution and bad odour have also been received from those living in the neighbourhood of the crematoriums.
Despite repeated attempts, Executive Health Officer Dr Padmaja Keskar was unavailable for comment.
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