April 16, 2021 9:34:22 pm
Water shortage has held up cremations in a Worli crematorium–one of the main crematoriums in the city where bodies from major hospitals like KEM, Nair are taken.
Staff at Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Hindu Crematorium said that water shortage forced electric pyres of the crematorium to shut down in the evenings, which leads to a waiting period of four to eight hours during the night as only wooden pyres are used.
The water is used to clean the ashes and cool the electric pyres so that they can be ready for use again.
According to staffers at the crematorium, there are three water tanks with capacity of 5,000 litres each. Each morning a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) tanker fills the tanks. However, the tanks are depleted by evening due to the increased number of cremations.
When Covid-19 cases were low, the Worli crematorium used to get 7-8 bodies daily for electric pyres. The number is now 15, and goes up to 20 on some days.
Officials at the crematorium said that according to protocol, bodies of COVID-19 patients have to be cremated on an electric pyre, and wood pyres are allowed if the waiting time is too long.
“After 8 pm, electric pyres are not used as there is no water. In the last few days, the number of cremations has increased. With no water, we are forced to use wooden pyres, which take about 3 hours for one body. The waiting period for cremation has increased to four to eight hours,” said a staffer from the crematorium.
In some cases, they have to face people’s anger over the waiting period, said another staffer. He added, “The facility needs 24-hour water supply for seamless operation.”
In Worli, there are 10 wood pyres of which four are working and the rest are under repair. The facility has two electric pyres.
Mumbai has been recording increase in deaths due to COVID-19. On Thursday, 49 deaths were reported, with 10,007 new Covid-19 cases.
Officials said that there are 46 traditional crematoriums across the city apart from 11 electric and 18 gas pyres.
Yuva Sena leader from Worli, Abhijit Patil wrote a letter to the hydraulic engineer (HE) department to immediately provide a water connection to resolve the water shortage at the Worli facility. “The facility needs a 24-hour water supply. I have requested the hydraulic department to provide a separate pipeline from a nearby water main line so that crematorium has water round the clock. This will help in continuous operation of electric pyres, and help the traumatized families finish last rites in time,” said Patil.
When contacted, Hydraulic Engineer (HE) A S Rathore said the matter would be taken up on priority. “If there is an issue of water pipeline connection, we will look into it on priority. Cemetery hospitals are BMC properties and at the time of COVID-19 we are ensuring they should not face problems due to water,” said Rathore.
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