The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought responses of the Centre and the Delhi government on a PIL to temporarily increase the number of cremation and burial sites in the city in view of the "overwhelming" number of people dying due to COVID-19 daily.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued a notice to the Centre, Delhi government, National Disaster Management Authority and the municipal bodies seeking their stand on the plea by a lawyer. The court directed the authorities to consider data provided by the petitioner, Pratyush Prasanna, while filing their replies.
In his plea filed through advocate Snigdha Singh, Prasanna has claimed that "due to an acute shortage of hospital beds and other necessities such as testing kits and oxygen supply, there have been an overwhelming number of deaths in the country, especially in the national capital region".
As a result, the cremation sites and burial grounds are also full and, therefore, a substantial amount of time was being taken to cremate the body, the plea has claimed. "Hence, a temporary increase in the number of cremation sites, grounds, burial sites is necessitated," the petition has said.
It has sought directions to make alternate arrangements for converting any park, field, open space, stadium or any other similar place as cremation site/ burial ground. The petition has said that the devastation caused by the lack of preparedness is such that there are massive backlogs of dead bodies and the largest crematoriums are also turning away bodies or are charging higher amounts for cremation.
"It is submitted that due to the backlogs, the bodies are even asked to be kept in an AC room for a night as there is no space in the hospital mortuary for the same to be kept or for that matter any other mortuary in the state. This is the kind of trauma a person is going through who has lost a loved one, untimely to a pandemic," the plea has claimed.
It has also sought directions to the authorities to ensure proper supply of wood and other necessary materials for carrying out the last rites of the dead. It has also sought that medical supplies like PPE Kits etc be provided to the family, friends and relatives who would be attending or carrying out the cremation/ burial.
The petition also seeks a direction to the authorities "to ensure electric crematoriums are available at all the crematoriums" and to increase their numbers.