While the government is scrambling to control Covid-19 infections in the national capital, crematoriums and burial grounds of the city are reeling under constant pressure. The number of dead bodies being brought to burial grounds has gone up nearly four times since January and February, workers say they have never been this busy.
“The situation is bad. In the last three days, there has been a 90% increase in the number of dead bodies of Covid-19 victims arriving at the crematorium," says a pandit who has been performing last rites at the Lodhi Crematorium for the past decade.
“I have already taken several rounds of the hospital to bring dead bodies to the crematorium. I am exhausted but I have to work so I can feed my family. I have no other option," a sweating ambulance driver narrates. We take all the precautions to ensure we don’t get infected, our ambulances are thoroughly sanitised after each commute to the cremation ground, he added.
A long queue of ambulances with dead bodies was seen parked outside the Lodhi crematorium. While their families were waiting for their turn, most of them had to wait for hours to get their relatives cremated.
A similar scenario was noticed at the Nigambodh Ghat, Delhi’s largest crematorium, where funeral workers are cremating bodies around the clock, to keep with the rising number of Covid-19 deaths. Here, the funeral pyre platforms have also been increased from 20 to 38 amid the rising number of deaths.
“The administration has made provision to increase the number of wood pyres and have also planned for additional manpower at the Nigambodh Ghat,” said Jai Prakash, the mayor of North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Burial grounds in Delhi have doubled their capacity. They were operating 24×7 when the first wave of COVID-19 hit last year, but now the families need to wait for 2-3 hours to bury their relatives.
Delhi’s Covid situation has been worsening every day. The national capital has now overtaken Mumbai to become the worst-affected city in the country in terms of the daily Covid-19 tally. As of Thursday, 11,652 COVID-19 deaths had been recorded in Delhi. With the rise in COVID-19 cases, the death count has also shot up sharply.
To break the chain of virus spread, the Delhi government has shut malls, gymnasiums, spas, assembly halls, entertainment parks, and auditoriums, barred dine-in facilities at restaurants, reduced capacity at cinemas at 30% until April 30. There is also a curfew on movement and assembly of people this weekend. A 10 pm-5 am night curfew restrictions are already in place until April 30.