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The Delhi Government today informed Delhi High Court that urgent steps were being taken to facilitate the cremation of those who have died on account of COVID-19.
The statement was made before a Division Bench of Chief Justice, Justice DN Patel and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal after the Court took suo motu cognizance of "highly dissatisfactory" storage and cremation facilities for those who have died on account of COVID-19.
The Court had taken note of the situation wherein bodies of those who had died 5 days ago were yet to be cremated and inside the largest COVID-19 mortuary of Lok Nayak Hospital (LNJP), all 80 storage racks were full, with 28 more bodies on the floor, piled on top of each other.
The Delhi Government today said that the situation, based on which the present suo motu proceedings were initiated, was a result of unavoidable circumstances.
These factors included the reduced capacity of Nigambodh Ghat to handle bodies on account of snags in furnaces, crematorium workers refusing to handle COVID-19 deceased, sudden spike in COVID-19 cases, relatives refusing to come forward to claim bodies, etc.
Stating that all steps were being taken to avoid any further issues in cremation of bodies, Delhi Government informed,
- LNJP has been authorised to divert bodies to crematoriums at Panchkuian and Punjabi Bagh, as opposed to only Nigambodh Ghat
- Wood-fired traditional cremations have been authorized, in addition to electric and CNG furnaces.
- PPE kits are being provided for all workers, as well as bodies.
- Crematoriums to now function from 7 am to 10 pm as opposed to the earlier working hours of 9 am to 4 pm.
It was added that on May 28, 28 bodies were cremated and by May 30, another 35 bodies would be cremated.
Only those bodies which are needed for any investigation would be retained.
The Court has now directed the Delhi Government to file a status report in the matter.
The matter would be heard next on June 2.
Additional Standing Counsel Sanjay Ghose represented Delhi Government.