At a time when the country is in an uproar over instances of people being forced to carry their deceased relatives for miles, Uttar Pradesh plans to ensure that its dead are treated with the dignity they deserve.
The state government has allocated about Rs 5.94 crore to the state medical and health department for purchasing 63 air-conditioned hearse vans meant for transporting bodies from state-run hospitals to their residences in a perfectly preserved state. The air-conditioned hearse service will be made available free of cost to the poor.
This move comes days after a photograph of a man carrying his dead wife in Odisha evoked sharp reactions across the country.
The hearse van will transport bodies from government hospitals to the deceased’s residence – even if it’s in another district – at all hours of the day. Plans are underway to make them run on the lines of the ‘108’ and ‘102’ ambulance services in the state.
Allahabad currently has two government-run hearse van services, and only one of them – deputed to the district-level Tej Bahadur Sapru (Beli) Hospital – is air-conditioned.
This is despite the fact that government hospitals in Allahabad receive patients from places as far as Rewa and Satna in Madhya Pradesh, besides Uttar Pradesh. Even the 800-bed Swaroop Rani Nehru Hospital at the Moti Lal Nehru Medical College, the region’s biggest institution for medical referral, does not have a single hearse van. Same is the case with the Moti Lal Nehru (Colvin) Divisional Hospital, the TB Hospital in Teliarganj and the Dufferin Women’s Hospital – where attendants have to book private vehicles for transporting bodies.
Dr VK Singh, chief medical superintendent of Beli Hospital, said they have been running the air-conditioned hearse van service for three months now. “It is primarily meant for the poor, who cannot afford to transport the body of their deceased in a private vehicle,” he added.
Dr Singh said they asked the state government to ensure the availability of free transportation after witnessing the sad plight of poor people who lost their kin during medical treatment. “With 63 new vans being purchased, more hospitals will be able to provide this facility,” he added.