Reality check: What makes hospital mortuaries stink?

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Indore
  • Updated: Jun 09, 2016 22:46 IST
The mortuary at the government hospital in Khandwa. (HT photo)

If there is one similarity between mortuaries in the Malwa-Nimar region and the bodies they house, it’s the state they are both in.

HT conducted a reality check after the body of a baby was found covered with ants in the Indore district hospital mortuary, and made some startling discoveries. As most mortuaries in the region did not have cold-storage facilities, bodies were kept on ice slabs. Also, relatives of the deceased were told to arrange for plastic sheets meant to cover the bodies as well as transportation.


Despite being the biggest government hospital in Ujjain division, the condition of its mortuary was pathetic. Only one freezer seemed to work, and the place was filled with the stench of unclaimed bodies.

Sources alleged that though the health department sanctioned crores of rupees, no attention was paid to improving the state of the hospital mortuary. And it’s the need of the hour, considering that as many as 120 autopsies are conducted here in a month.


The Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar civil hospital at Mhow is in desperate need of a cold chamber. Hospital in-charge Dr HR Verma said though the mortuary has every other facility, it has no specific compartment to store unclaimed bodies.

“Identifying unclaimed bodies is a long procedure. They start disintegrating in the meantime,” he said.


If what sources say is true, the Neemuch district hospital does not attach a lot of significance to its mortuary. This particular wing of the institution languishes in a state of deterioration, and is reportedly handled by a lone class IV employee.

Maintenance is a key issue at the hospital mortuary because at least three bodies come here for autopsies every day.


Absence of freezers plagues the mortuary at the Barwani district hospital. Moreover, as it has only one cemented platform for performing autopsies, there is usually a long queue of waiting bodies. On many occasions, corpses have to be kept on the floor.

However, Barwani CMHO Dr Rajni Dabar said things are going to change soon. “A modern mortuary is about to be opened, and we are making arrangements to shift the bodies there,” Dabar said.


The mortuary at the Khandwa district hospital is small in area, and has only four freezers. If there are more bodies, they are kept on the floor.

Besides this, a broken pipeline coming from the female surgical ward keeps dripping water into the facility – giving the place a sludgy feel.

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