Tin walls set up to block view of cremation site in Lucknow
LUCKNOW Tin sheets have been installed by the Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) as a cover to block the view of the Bhainsakund cremation site in Lucknow. Citizens allege this has been done to stop people from taking photographs of the number of bodies being consigned to flames at the site.
Some videos of bodies being burnt were in circulation on social media platforms on Wednesday, allegedly exposing the number of deaths due to the pandemic.
“More than 630 cremations have taken place in the city over the last 10 days. As many as 97 bodies were brought to Bhainsakund and Gulalaghat cremation sites on Wednesday. On Tuesday, these sites received 87 bodies,” said Ashutosh Varma, spokesperson of the Samajwadi Party (SP).
“On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, tokens were issued for the cremation of bodies and there is no place for the dead at the cremation ground and no beds for patients in hospitals,” he claimed.
He added, “Blocking the view of Bhainsakund crematorium is a blatant attempt to conceal the real number of bodies being brought for cremation. Instead of hiding facts, the state government should focus on improving health facilities and saving lives.”
Even Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi tweeted about tin sheets covering Bhainsakund cremation ground. “Instead of wasting time, resources and energy on hiding the tragedy, please take steps to control the pandemic. Take concrete steps to check the pandemic, this is call of time,” she tweeted.
“In Ahmedabad, they had built a wall to hide slum area from Trump. Now they are covering a crematorium in UP to hide sight of burning bodies of COVID patients,” read a tweet by Sandeep Singh, roving journalist.
“Lucknow has seen a sudden spurt in Covid cases. In the last one week, over 20,000 Covid cases have been reported from the state capital. For the last few days, Covid count has been over 5,000 per day,” said Girish Mishra, corporator of Congress.
However, municipal commissioner Ajay Dwivedi said, “Only the Covid cremation area has been barricaded from the non Covid cremation area. This has been done on the advice of experts.”
“As a number of Covid positive bodies are also being cremated traditionally, barricading of the Covid area was essential,” he added.
“The segregation is to separate the Covid area from non Covid area. Don’t you think it’s necessary? Some see a problem everywhere. There is no point in doing politics on bodies,” said Harish Srivastava, spokesman, UP BJP.
Munna, who cremates bodies at the electric crematorium, said: “We are working till late at night. But last week from Wednesday to Sunday, we worked 24x7. Things are better managed now as 50 more platforms for traditional cremation have come up at the site.”
Labourers hired to shift bodies
In wake of more bodies being brought to the cremation site, the LMC has hired 100 labourers on contract to shift the infected bodies from buses to the cremation platforms. As no one accompanies many of these infected bodies, these workers do the needful. Fifty labourers are working in two shifts, said the municipal commissioner.
Extra platforms for cremation
“These labourers are provided PPE kits, gloves and sanitisers for protection. The corporation also raised 50 extra platforms for the cremation of bodies at Bhainsakund and Gulalaghat,” he added.
There was a shortage of wood at the site on Friday, Saturday and Sunday due to an increase in the number of bodies, but after that LMC regularised supply of wood at the cremation ground, said Pandit Narendra Mishra, who performs last rites in a traditional way.
Blaze in waiting area of Bhainsakund
There was a blaze in the waiting area between platform no. 3 and 4 at the Bhainsakund crematorium on Thursday noon, after a plastic sheet caught fire. But no one was injured in the incident.
“The sheet caught fire after a pyre was lit up on platform no, 4. The plastic sheet was installed between these two platforms to create a waiting area for people who come with a body. The fire started around 3pm and it was controlled by 5.30pm,” said Mahendra Mishra ‘Sonu’, the priest at platform no. 3 and 4.
Ram Nagina Tripathi, chief engineer, rubbish removal department at LMC stated, “This minor fire is a big lesson for us. Fortunately, no one was injured. Now, we will arrange fire hydrants at the site. The place has no shortage of water so having fire hydrants would not be a problem. In future, use of plastic sheet would also be avoided. We will try to increase the height of the roof and use material which is fire proof.”