COVID-19 deceased bodies piling up in mortuary: Delhi Govt tells HC taking urgent steps for cremations
Anguished by the corpses of COVID-19 patients piling up in the mortuaries, the Delhi High Court, on Thursday, had initiated a PIL. The court had pulled up the Delhi government over news reports related to the corpses of COVID-19 patients. They said that the situation was "highly dissatisfactory and violative of the rights of the dead".
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led state government has informed the Delhi High Court that it is taking urgent steps to tackle the issue of cremating the bodies of those who have died due to COVID-19, as the corpses have been piling up at mortuaries. The Delhi government has also extended the timings of crematoriums.
While 28 bodies were cremated on Thursday, the last rites of the remaining 35 will be performed by Saturday.
Only those bodies where post mortem and investigations are to be carried out will be retained, it said.
On Friday, a bench consisting of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal directed that this situation should not be repeated and dead bodies shouldn't be left to pile up.
The court, conducting the hearing via video conferencing, asked the government and Delhi’s three municipal corporations to file a detailed status report. The matter has been listed for further hearing on June 2.
Anguished by the lack of facilities to cremate those who died due to COVID-19 and the bodies piling up in the mortuaries, on Thursday, the HC had initiated a public interest litigation (PIL) on its own.
The bench had said that as citizens of Delhi they were pained at the state of affairs as reported in newspapers on Thursday. It has said if this was the correct situation then it was "highly dissatisfactory and violative of the rights of the dead".
It had noted, according to the news reports, that the LNJP Hospital’s COVID-19 mortuary had 108 bodies of which 28 are piled on the floor on top of each other. The mortuary has only 80 storage racks.
During Friday's hearing, the Delhi government additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose informed the court that urgent steps were being taken to remedy the situation. He said that LNJP Hospital has been authorised to divert the bodies to other crematoriums at Panchkuian and Punjab Bagh, as opposed to only Nigambodh Ghat.
Ghose said the government has now authorised wood-fired traditional cremations, in addition to electric and CNG furnaces, and are providing personal protection (PPE) kits for all workers at crematoriums.
The working hours of crematoriums have been extended from 7 AM to 10 PM; at the moment they work from 9 AM to 4 PM.
The Delhi government has argued that the situation was a result of unavoidable circumstances such as crematorium workers refusing to handle the bodies of those who died from COVID-19, a sudden spike in coronavirus cases and related deaths in Delhi, and relatives refusing to come forward to claim bodies.