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Makeshift cremation site in Bengaluru closed as Covid toll dips

Bengaluru: The Bengaluru district administration has shut down one of the three the temporary crematoriums in the city on Friday and is planning to shut the other two soon, as the daily number of deaths due to Covid-19 saw a sharp decline, officials said
By Arun Dev
PUBLISHED ON JUN 12, 2021 12:27 AM IST

Bengaluru: The Bengaluru district administration has shut down one of the three the temporary crematoriums in the city on Friday and is planning to shut the other two soon, as the daily number of deaths due to Covid-19 saw a sharp decline, officials said.

The city reported on 48 Covid-19 related deaths on Friday, while the death figures on Thursday and Wednesday were 47 and 50 respectively. The weekly Covid case fatality rate (CFR) in Bengaluru peaked during the May 29-June 4 week to touch 7%, the highest seen in 2021 so far. During this period, the city witnessed 25,699 fresh Covid-19 cases and 1,797 deaths.

Out of the three temporary, open crematoriums in and around Bengaluru, one has been shut down and a call of the others will be taken soon, officials added. The three open crematoriums in Tavarekere, Anekal and Giddanahalli were opened in early May after the 13 electric crematoriums were unable to handle the number of dead bodies coming in every day. Out of these three, Giddanahalli has been shut down.

“During the peak, we were getting around 25-30 dead bodies a day, while our capacity was to cremate eight bodies a day,” recalled Vinod, in charge of the Summanhalli electric crematoriums.

At Tavarekere open crematorium, only 5 sheds were available prior to the second wave of Covid-19. However, as the number of deaths increased, 41 sheds were created so that cremations could be conducted. “We saw the highest number of deaths on May 7, when 84 bodies were cremated at Taverakere,” said Nagaveni N, executive officer, Bangalore South Taluk Panchayat, who is in charge of the open crematorium.

“On Wednesday and Thursday, we didn’t get a single body. There were two cases today (Thursday). But since last week, the numbers are low,” she added.

Meanwhile, the situation was similar Anekal, where no dead bodies were brought on Wednesday. Since two other electric crematoriums Peenya and Banashankari are undergoing repairs, these two Anekal and Tavarekere have been kept operational, said officials of the district administration.

“We will be winding up operations at the other crematoriums as well. While the infrastructure that we have created, like the sheds meant for cremations, will remain. However, the human resource like the contract labourers and the supervisors will be relieved of duties in the due time,” said Bengaluru Urban deputy commissioner, C J Manjunath.

Even at the electric crematoriums, the employees are breathing a sigh of relief. Vinod, a supervisor at Summanhalli crematorium said that in the past one week, they received more non-Covid cases. “We are getting around 10-15 dead bodies per day and most of them are non-Covid cases. If you look at today’s (Friday) numbers, there were only four cases,” he said.

Raghavendra, an employee at the crematorium said that they were finally able to get some time to sleep. “During the peak of the pandemic, we were working till 2 am. We were cremating so many bodies that the furnace broke down at one point. It took some time before we could get it running. I hadn’t gone home during the peak, now we are getting some time to relax,” he said.

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