K’taka govt to set up 23 open air cremation grounds around Bengaluru

Bengaluru: With the Karnataka hospitals and crematoriums under a lot of strain with the rising number of bodies of COVID-19 victims, the state government has identified land parcels totalling more than 230.5 acre in 23 places surrounding Bengaluru, for setting up open cremation grounds, said a statement by the Revenue department.

According to the statement issued on Wednesday, the identified land parcels are within 2 km of the city’s periphery.

The Revenue department had identified 23 land parcels ranging from 1.2 acre to 46 acre surrounding Bengaluru, which will be handed over to the Bengaluru civic body soon to set up temporary open air crematoriums.

Each land parcel, measuring less than four acre, is sufficient to perform at least six to eight cremations in one go.

A crematorium staff on the condition of anonymity told IANS that he suspects allocating huge land parcels like 35 acre in Mittiganahalli and 46 acre in Kannuru in Mahadevpura division, 15 acre in Bellahalli and 12 acre in Bagaluru in east division, 44 acre in Bettahalusuru in Yelahanka division and 24 acre in Gollahalli in Bommangalli division are among 23 open cremation places to have been identified for mass cremation in any eventuality.

“Although Bengaluru has not reached the stage of Delhi, where mass cremation has become the norm of sorts, if this deadly virus is not contained Bengaluru may have to go for mass cremation. Therefore, the state government may have identified such big land parcels keeping future eventualities in mind,” he added.

Bengaluru has a population of 1.2 crore and is the third biggest metropolis after Delhi and Mumbai in the country. It has 12 state-run crematoriums and each has two furnaces.

According to the crematorium staff, once the body is placed in a furnace it takes about 45 to 60 minutes for the cremation to be complted.

The COVID-19 recovery rate in Bengaluru witnessed a sharp dip to 69.1 per cent on April 28, from above 92 per cent in December 2020 in the aftermath of the second Covid wave gripping Bengaluru in particular and Karnataka in general.

People in Bengaluru are scrambling for beds, oxygen, medicines as well as a place to cremate the dead.

Till the second wave kicked in, Bengaluru was witnessing Covid-related fatalities in single digit from two digits during the first wave in 2020, but after the second wave swamped the country’s third biggest metropolis, the fatalities continue to mount and stand anywhere between 100 to 200 per day.

According to Wednesday’s health bulletin, Bengaluru alone witnessed 139 fatalities in 24 hours.

However, several ambulance and hearse van drivers and crematorium staff have been raising doubts over the government’s statistics about fatalities, as they feel that if the fatality numbers are within 200, as the government says, then the existing 12 crematoriums with two furnaces each are enough to cremate the dead without ambulances/hearse vans standing in long queues.

Drivers allege that they are forced to wait five hours to eight hours to cremate a body, which in itself speaks that the number of dead is allegedly being fudged by the government to a large extent.