A gas-based crematorium operationalised at Sector 20 on Thursday. (Sant Arora/HT)
A gas-based crematorium operationalised at Sector 20 on Thursday. (Sant Arora/HT)

Panchkula earmarks 6 more sites for last rites of Covid victims

The crematorium at Sector 20 handled at least 179 bodies in April, of which 73 were of Panchkula residents who succumbed to Covid
By Tanbir Dhaliwal, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON APR 30, 2021 12:34 AM IST

As Panchkula ran out of space to cremate its dead amid the spiralling Covid fatalities, the authorities have increased the number of sites dedicated to cremating such bodies to seven.

Last week, the crematorium in Sector 20, which also houses a gas-based facility, was earmarked for the same purpose. For the first time, the crematorium was full on Wednesday, while Thursday saw 13 cremations.

Panchkula municipal commissioner RK Singh ordered to designate the cremation ground in Sector 28, burial ground in Sector 28, cremation ground in Ramgarh, crematoriums in Rambagh, Kalka and burial grounds in Majra Mehtab and Himshikha for the cremation of bodies of Covid victims.

“We have 14 plots, which means 14 bodies can be cremated here in a day. Today, there were 32 bodies,” a worker at Sector-20 crematorium said.

He said that the death toll has spiked in the last few weeks. “Last year, the weekly figure used to stand at one or two, but now, there is no counting. We have bodies on a waiting list. I have never seen such a scenario in last two decades.”

As per the data, Sector-20 crematorium handled at least 179 bodies in April. Of these, 73 were of Panchkula residents, who succumbed to Covid. The number mentioned in the media bulletin shared by the health department is far less – 47. The gap in the figures existed in March as well, when the department claimed five people died due to Covid, whereas crematorium showed 15 deaths.

Overwhelming scenes at sites

By noon on Thursday, a municipal staffer had cremated six bodies. “Eight more will be cremated here today, and then I will go to the cremation ground in Sector 28.”

The staff member, who has three workers to help him, said he has requested for two more teams for the task as the number of bodies has increased manifold.

Families, meanwhile, could be seen scrambling to arrange items to perform the last rites of their loved ones. As an ambulance with four more bodies reached the Sector-20 crematorium later in the day, one of the workers asked a family to hurry up as more bodies were lined up.

Kin of the dead were also left disappointed when their request of collecting the remains the next day was not met. As per the official, they can’t handle such requests as they have to make arrangements for the cremations about the take place the next day.

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