BMC withdraws circular on burial of infected bodies

Within hours of issuing it, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday withdrew a controversial circular that called for the cremation of bodies of those who succumbed to COVID-19, and that if such a body were to be buried, to move it out of the city.

In the revised circular, the BMC has allowed burial within Mumbai provided the burial ground is large enough to ensure there is no threat of transmission to the area’s residents.

There have been incidents in Mumbai where the bodies of coronavirus patients were disposed of in haste, without following due process or guidelines. Globally, there have been incidents where people who attended the funeral of such a patient contracted the virus later.

On Monday, Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi issued a circular that read, “All the bodies of COVID-19 patients should be cremated at the nearest crematorium irrespective of religion. Rituals involving touching the body should be avoided…” The circular also said packaging the body in plastic and burying it prevents early decomposition and risks spread of the virus. Hence, all COVID-19 bodies should be cremated to avoid chances of transmission in the community, and burial should not be allowed, it said. “However, if someone insists on burying the body, he will be permitted only if the body is taken out of Mumbai… The funeral should not involve more than five people.”

The circular was the result of information that burial grounds located in densely populated localities could lead to transmission. But it led to an uproar as it was seen to be unfair towards Muslims and Christians, given that they would have to take the body out of Mumbai if it were to be buried.

Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kirit Somaiya raised the issue, following which the BMC revised the circular.

The new circular has allowed burial within the city provided, “the burial grounds are large enough so as not to create possibility of spread of virus in the neighbouring area and other arrangements are made by all concerned on their own following guidelines and precautions…” The rest of the circular remains the same.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 1:12:00 PM |

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