Demand for death certificates rises as cases surge in UP
Municipal official in Lucknow say there has been an increase in requests for death certificates , although they can no longer put a number to the daily deaths in the city because, they claim, the office of the chief medical officer (CMO) of the state has taken over the management of the website that manages birth and deaths.
“Before the pandemic, we used to get around 10 to 14 applications for death certificates per day but now around 80 to 100 people are coming to Lucknow Municipal Corp office (in all eight zones) for getting these death certificates made,” an LMC official said on condition of anonymity.
CMO Lucknow Dr Sanjay Bhatnagar later contradicted municipal body’s claim that the management of the system on which details of those who died were fed had been transferred to CMO office.
“I think its the Nagar Nigam (municipal body) which should have these details. They only can tell,” he said when contacted on phone.
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Under pressure to issue certificates, LMC has now waived the requirement that all deaths needed to be backed by a certificate from the crematorium or burial ground, where the last rites are performed.
“As the main crematoriums are overloaded, people are now burying/cremating their dead in the fields too. Such people don’t have a slip/receipt of the cremation ground. In these cases, we have decided to issue death certificates on the basis of the letter issued by the local corporator or any public representative. We are even accepting letters signed by any five people of the locality,” said Lucknow’s additional municipal commissioner Amit Kumar.
A Government of India circular – no 1/12//2014-VS (CRS) – dated July 27, 2015 recognises birth or death certificates issued by prominent government hospitals as legal document in itself, not requiring authentication by municipal authorities, but many people are not aware of this.
“Since 2015, government hospitals have been empowered to issue death certificates in case of hospital deaths,” said Mohd Khalid, the medical records officer at Lucknow’s Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences (RLMIMS).
Hospital authorities are also empowered to act as registrar (births and deaths) and all such certificates are issued with their digital signature under section 12/17 of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 and Rule 8/13 of the Uttar Pradesh Registration of Births and Deaths Rules 2002.
“Not many still know about this and hence keep insisting on a certificate by a municipal authority even in case of hospital deaths,” added Khalid.
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“Yes, even government officers aren’t aware of this. They keep insisting on a death certificate issued by a municipal authority. A senior officer of the treasury department told me that this hospital certificate won’t be valid and I would have to get one issued by a municipal authority,” said Aseem Pandey, a software professional from Dubai whose father died at a government hospital in Lucknow.
Varun Bahuguna, the man in charge of IT at the LMC’s birth and death section confirmed this: “Now, LMC is not the only nodal agency to issue birth and death certificates as all the government hospitals have the power to issue death and birth certificates.”
That also makes it difficult for LMC to keep track of the numbers, he explained.
“Since we aren’t the nodal agency anymore for issuing death certificates, we cannot tell you the exact number of death certificates issued after the surge in pandemic because the website is managed by the chief medical officer’s office. So, LMC can issue the death certificates but cannot tell exact number of certificates issued on the day,” he said.
The number of active cases in Lucknow has risen from 3,912 on April 1 to 29,827 on May 5 (reported on May 6). On an average, the city has recorded 2,966 cases a day for the past week, taking the count to 20,759 cases in seven days.