The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has decided to urge NGOs to help in the cremation of bodies, which has become an issue due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. The industrial city has reported 17 deaths due to Covid-19 till now.
“We held a meeting to discuss the issue of disposal of bodies. We have not been able to allocate enough staff for the purpose… so, we have decided to invite NGOs to help us in the disposal of bodies,” Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar told The Indian Express on Saturday.
Hardikar said four people are required to carry the stretcher from the ambulance to the crematorium, adding that the civic body will provide PPE suits to the crematorium staff and the ambulance driver also. “We will ensure that all the four have PPE suits including the crematorium staff, the ambulance driver and one person from the mortuary… But we hope some NGOs will come forward and help carry out the rituals,” he said.
While the PCMC earlier allowed 20 people to attend funerals, as per its revised order of May 22, 50 people are now allowed at funerals.
On Friday, only one civic employee was present for the last rites of a 50-year-old man from Poonawalle. “The driver said it was not his concern and the crematorium employee said he will not help. My son and I had to help the employee, who had a PPE suit, to carry the body…” said Police Naik Amod Kulkarni, a close relative of the deceased.
The 50-year-old was suffering from exhausation and running a temperature. He was admitted to YCMH on Thursday for suspected Covid-19 symptoms, and died on Friday evening. “Till his death, we were not sure whether he had the infection… his test result was not out… the PCMC had covered the body in plastic sheets, as is apparently done for disposal of Covid-19 bodies,” Kulkarni said.
The test result on Saturday found the man negative for the infection. Kulkarni subsequently released a video of how the body was handled.
“This should not have happened. There should have been four people… I will question the staff concerned,” said YCMH Dean Dr Rajendra Wable.
Earlier this month, when a Covid-19 patient had died, his relatives had refused to conduct the last rites. A civic hospital staffer almost single-handedly carried out the rituals and the cremation.
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