The visuals of dead bodies floating in the river Ganga in several districts of Uttar Pradesh and bodies buried on the banks suspected to be of the Covid patients disturbed many in the country, but gave motivation to Sanjay Rai Sherpuria, a Gujarat-based entrepreneur to reach out.
Sherpuria shifted his base to Uttar Pradesh's Ghazipur and set up a firewood bank to provide free wood to the poor families for funeral of their relatives.
Sherpuria, who actually hails from Ghazipur, told IANS, "I was shocked after seeing the pictures of dead bodies floating and buried near river banks in several districts of Uttar Pradesh. I was devastated, thus I decided to set up a firewood bank in Ghazipur."
He said that to set up the firewood bank, I shifted my base to Ghazipur and prepared a dedicated team with over 5,000 volunteers.
Rai further said that he decided to provide free wood to the poor and marginalised families, who were unable to buy the wood to cremate the dead bodies of their kins.
"This was just a small effort to ensure that even the poor should get dignity in their death irrespective of their caste and creed.
"And to provide wood free of cost to them and, with the help of district administration we set up 10 firewood banks at different Ghats in Ghazipur."
Rai also said that several people and farmers came forward to donate wood for the cause.
He said that the wood bank now has more than 700 tonnes of wood available with it.
Rai, who is a native of Sherpur village in Ghazipur district, and now residing in Gujarat had earlier this year started the Agriculture-based Central of Excellence that aims to provide employment to over 25,000 people every year from 2023.
Rai also said that since May 14 to June, the firewood bank has been able to deal with the demand of over 100 families to provide wood.
Sherpuria also said that he is working with his team to develop an alternative for wood for cremating bodies.
He said that he has developed a machine that can make cow dung based wood, which will cut the cost of cremation.
Citing an example, he said that to cremate a body one needs over 500 kg of wood.
"So I have developed a machine to make cow dung wood, which would help us in cutting the demand of wood," he said.
He said that if his machine turns successful it will cut the cost of cremation as only over 130-150 kg of cow dung wood will be required.
Sherpuria has also launched a dedicated Covid-19 response team in Ghazipur to provide medicines, Covid test camps and other resources.
He said that the volunteers of the response team visit villages and provide necessary assistance.