With around 135 bodies a day, mass crematoriums struggle with the load

Mass cremation at Tavarekere, between Magadi Road and Tumakuru Road, in Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

The three mass crematoriums on the city’s outskirts are reportedly facing a shortage of not just firewood, but also staff. Daily wage labourers have been roped in to meet the demand.

Initially, two mass cremation sites were established in Giddenahalli and Tavarekere, but with the death toll showing no signs of easing, the Bengaluru Urban district administration established another one at Bidaruguppe, near Anekal.

According to highly placed sources, the three sites are handling around 135 bodies every day.

Another senior official explained that it takes a minimum of five hours to burn a body. “Firewood weighing three times the weight of the body is required,” sources explained, adding that experts from traditional cremation grounds were roped in to train daily wage workers at the new mass cremation sites.

Sources attributed the rise in number of cremations at these sites to the rush in the electric crematoriums of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in the city, which are struggling to cope with the work load. “Also, some families prefer traditional cremation over electric cremation,” they said.

Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner J. Manjunath said, “At the electric crematoriums, families have to wait for hours. At these sites, the wait time is less.”

The recent spate of rains and strong winds were adding to delays, but the district administration has covered the new sites. There are 50 frames at Giddenahalli, of which 25 are covered. All 45 frames at Tavarekere and 20 in Bidaruguppe are covered, said Mr. Manjunath.

“At least two batches of mass cremations are conducted at each site, depending on the number of bodies received in a day.”

However, he denied claims of labour shortage. At Tavarekere, accommodation for workers had been provided at a hostel belonging to the Social Welfare Department. “We have also extended a pick and drop facility to those who want to return to their homes after work,” he said.

Eucalyptus trees for firewood

The district administration has been utilising firewood supplied from BBMP’s five depots maintained by the Forest Cell. “Trees cut for various development works as well as those that have fallen due to rain and winds are stored there. We are utilising this stock,” Mr. Manjunath said.

He added that the administration was procuring eucalyptus trees at government approved rates from the Karnataka State Forest Industries Corporation. “We have also tied up with local timber yards and depots. If at all there is a shortage, these yards and depots send the required quantity of firewood,” he stated.

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 1:12:52 AM |

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