Delhi's crematoriums run out of wood, seek forest dept’s help

The municipal agencies in the city (north, south and east MCDs) have approached the state forest department to help arrange for wood.
Family members and ambulance worker wearing PPE kit (Personal Protection Equipment) carry the bodies of the patients who died of the Covid-19 coronavirus at a cremation ground in New Delhi on April 27, 2021.(AFP)
Family members and ambulance worker wearing PPE kit (Personal Protection Equipment) carry the bodies of the patients who died of the Covid-19 coronavirus at a cremation ground in New Delhi on April 27, 2021.(AFP)
Published on Apr 28, 2021 03:11 AM IST
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By, New Delhi

Delhi’s municipality-run crematoriums are running out of wood required for pyres on account of the rising number of Covid-19 deaths -- 2,648 since April 20 according to the HT dashboard -- and sought help from the state forest department, as per municipal officials.

The municipal agencies in the city (north, south and east MCDs) have approached the state forest department to help arrange for wood. Separately, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has asked issued an order directing officials to use dried cow dung as fuel.

Senior civic officials said that their crematoriums have been leased out to NGOs who arrange wood through government suppliers. Before the second wave hit the city, the largest crematorium of Delhi, the Nigambodh Ghat, required 6,000-8,000 kg of wood daily, but this has now risen to 80,000-90,000 kg daily.

North MCD mayor, Jai Prakash, said the stock of wood in crematoriums is depleting fast. The corporation has had to create additional makeshift cremation facilities in parking lots and parks, and the requirement for wood has significantly gone up. “We require the cooperation of the Delhi government to meet the daily wood demand,” he said.

All three municipal corporations are controlled by the BJP.

The city’s forest department said it has received requests from municipal agencies for wood. Deputy conservator forests (north division) Aditya Madanpotra said on Tuesday that they have granted permission to the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which is constructing the regional rapid transit system (RRTS) in Delhi, to cut the branches and tops of at least 500 trees in advance to meet the demand of crematoriums.

The south division of the forest department has also granted permission to cut 200 dead and dried trees in different locations on request from SDMC.

Shiv Kumar, one of the caretakers of the Paschim Vihar cremation ground, explained that each pyre needs 500-600kg of wood. “Because of the shortage, we have brought it down to 450 kg... Every day we are getting over 200-300 bodies, so you can calculate how much wood we need daily,” he said.

EDMC on April 25 issued a notice allowing the use of dried cow dung at crematoriums. “We are asking NGOs, citizen groups and cow shelters to donate cow dung cakes for this purpose,” said Nirmal Jain, mayor, EDMC.

SDMC has also written to the Delhi government to ensure that the supply of wood from neighbouring states to reach the city without interruption.


    Soumya Pillai covers environment and traffic in Delhi. A journalist for three years, she has grown up in and with Delhi, which is often reflected in the stories she does about life in the city. She also enjoys writing on social innovations.

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