In view of the rise in the number of COVID-19 fatalities, cremation of the deceased will now be allowed at all the 21 crematoriums being operated by the Pune civic body in Maharashtra, an official said on Sunday. "In the first COVID-19 wave, the daily count of bodies coming to crematoriums was 30 to 40 and we used to cremate these bodies in four electric facilities. But since the daily count of bodies coming to crematoriums has increased, the PMC has allowed cremation of COVID-19 deceased at all (21) facilities," said Srinivas Kandul who heads the electrical department of the Pune Municipal Corporation.
Apart from electric and gas cremation, the last rites of such patients can now be performed using wood pyres.
Kandul said due to round-the-clock operation and the use of plastic for wrapping up bodies at electric cremation facilities, the instances of these facilities breaking down have also increased.
"To deal with this situation, we are now taking all 45 to 50 dead bodies of COVID-19 patients from the Sassoon General Hospital to Vaikunth crematorium where cremation is done on 12 wood pyres," he said.
Kandul also said since Vaikunth crematorium is surrounded by a residential area, some people objected to the smoke emanating from the wood fire.
"To deal with this issue, we have started using white coal (bio-coal briquettes) which is eco-friendly and non-polluting for cremation," he said.
Kandul further said the rising number of fatalities is creating pressure on the existing transport facilities.
"I have sought six buses without seats from the PMC.
All these buses will be deployed at Sassoon hospital, Bharti hospital, jumbo COVID-19 facility, and Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital (to shift bodies to crematoriums)," he said.
Pune city on Sunday reported 4,631 fresh coronavirus positive cases, taking the overall count to 4,00,117 while 55 fatalities pushed the toll to 6,498, an official release said.
(With PTI inputs)