Air pollution from crematorium irks residents of Gnanapuram

Smoke coming out of the chimney of the electric crematorium at Chavulamadum in Visakhapatnam.   | Photo Credit: DEEPAK KR

Residents of Gnanapuram in Visakhapatnam have been complaining about pollution problems due to the burning of a large number of bodies at the Chavulamadum crematorium. They say that daily about 60 to 70 bodies are being cremated, of which 10 to 11 are being cremated in the electric crematorium.

Corporator of ward 41, Kodigudla Purnima, said the capacity of the crematorium was around 15 to 17 bodies a day. “And when we talk of capacity, they include space, infrastructure and manpower. But at present about 60 bodies are being lit in the traditional form with firewood and around 10 are being sent to the electric crematorium and this has been the scenario at least for the past 15 days,” she said.

Smoke and fine ash from the funeral pyres were engulfing the area and there was also emission of thick black smoke from the electric crematorium. It appeared that the scrubbers were not functioning in the electric one, she added.

With the residents claiming that they are witness to at least 50 to 60 bodies wrapped in plastic body bags, according to the COVID-19 protocol, being brought to the crematorium on a daily basis, a question arises from where they are coming.

The district is reporting only 8 to 12 COVID-19 deaths, while the body count at the crematorium is at least five to six times higher. Whether the death count due to the COVID-19 is being underplayed, asks the corporator.

A senior engineer from the GVMC confirmed that the crematorium has been receiving a huge number of bodies, which is much more than its capacity.

When contacted, Health Department officials said the body count at the crematorium included those who had died of natural causes, accidents etc.

But even then the count looks abnormal, said Joseph Betha, a senior advocate and resident of Gnanapuram.

The residents who gathered at a community hall recently demanded that the bodies be distributed to other crematoriums in the city. “In total, there are 143 crematoriums in the city spread across 72 wards and we demand that the bodies be distributed across a few more crematoriums to reduce the load at Chavulamadum so that people can breathe easy,” said Ms. Purnima.

According to a GVMC official, as per the direction of the government, all COVID-related bodies are to be brought to one crematorium and Chavulamadum has been identified as the one.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 9:14:08 AM |

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