Delhi: As Covid deaths rise, crematoria reserve more space


As Covid deaths in the city rise, dedicated space for bodies at crematoria and burial grounds is being increased to make sure people do not face problems in conducting last rites of their loved ones. On Thursday, 24 people died — highest since December 29.

Narendra Chawla, leader of the house of South MCD, said: “Some CNG furnaces will be dedicated for Covid only now. At present, we can handle over 200 bodies per day. This can be stretched further if needed.”

Between April 1 and 7, the civic bodies have conducted the last rites of 93 people as per the standard operating procedure (SOP) for Covid patients.

A body being cremated or buried in adherence to the Covid SOP laid down by the Indian Council of Medical Research may not necessarily mean the person had Covid or died of the virus. Some people, who were suspected to have Covid, are also cremated or buried as per the protocol. Delhi government’s figures reveal there have been 83 Covid deaths in the city from April 1-7.

The civic bodies maintain 21 crematoriums and graveyards. Of these, eight each are under the North and South MCDs and five under the East body. At North Delhi’s Nigambodh Ghat, there are six CNG-based furnaces, out of which three are now reserved for those who died of Covid.

In June last year, as a sudden increase in cases was seen, civic bodies had to increase facilities.

Mayor of North MCD Jai Prakash said the situation was under control at present since platforms were increased last year.

Before June, civic bodies had a capacity to perform 95 funerals as per Covid protocol per day. This was increased to over 300, after there were reports of families facing problems as some cremation grounds ran out of space.

According to data shared by the South MCD, they performed the last rites for 116 bodies in January, 28 in February and 73 in March. However, in the first week of April alone, it carried out last rites of 52 people as per Covid protocol at Punjabi Bagh crematorium, ITO Kabristan, Madanpur Khadar burial ground, Lodhi Road crematorium, Hasthal cremation ground, Lal Kuan and Dwarka Sector 24 cremation ground.

The East MCD has done the last rites of 18 people as per Covid protocol, with 9 each at Shahdara North and South zone, while North MCD has performed last rites of 23 people over the past week.

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