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Residents being overcharged for wood at Hindon cremation ground, allege councillors

By Peeyush Khandelwal, Ghaziabad
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2020 11:41 PM IST

Councillors of the Ghaziabad municipal-corporation have alleged that residents who perform the last rites of their deceased family members at the Hindon cremation ground are being overcharged for wood amid the ongoing lockdown.

They alleged that as compared to the 500 or 600 charge for every quintal of wood earlier, residents need to pay at least 900 now for every quintal of wood. The councillors said they have raised the matter with the municipal commissioners and urged him to take action in this regard even as caretaker at the Hindon cremation ground said that the shortage of wood has forced the price to shoot up.

“Families of the deceased need to pay at least 900 per quintal nowadays for wood that would otherwise around 500 per quintal if bought from the local markets and about 600 per quintal from markets in Hapur. The costs would be conclusive of transportation charges and cess etc, but now families are being overcharged now. This is happening amid the lockdown when people are already facing all kinds of troubles, we have asked municipal commissioner to take action in this regard,” said Himanshu Mittal, councillor from Kavi Nagar.

“The rates now are too high and even 100 is charged extra for carrying the wood from the stockpile to the funeral platform. This rampant overcharging is not acceptable and must stop,” he added.

According to Acharya Manish Pandit, caretaker at the Hindon cremation ground, last rites for nearly 10 to 15 bodies is performed at the premises daily and each funeral requires three to four quintals of wood.

“Currently, we have to charge about 900 per quintal for wood, and it is because of non-availability of wood in local markets. We have to procure wood from areas like Kithor in Meerut and Gulaothi in Bulandshahr. The cost has also increased on account of transportation charges and also the increased wages we pay to our workers,” Pandit said.

“Just when the lockdown started we were charging about 750 per quintal of wood. Until May 13, we had an adequate quantity of wood that was supplied from Meerut and Bulandshahr and after adding all charges, which increased during the lockdown, families had to pay 800 for every quintal of wood. Since the availability of wood has gone down, we had to increase the rate of wood to 900 per quintal. We are providing wood free of cost for unidentified bodies, and also not charging economically backward people anything,” he added.

Municipal commissioner Dinesh Chandra said Pandit has been running the Hindon cremation ground for the past 10 years on a contract basis. “He has been managing the affairs of the cremation ground for the last 10 years, and we will review his contract. I have sought a report over the complaints I received from the councillors about residents being overcharged,” he added.

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