It is a modest attempt to infuse modernity into 'death management', even while retaining traditional and customary practices in vogue for ages.
'Govinda Dhamam', the state-of-the-art crematorium developed on a one-acre site at Thimminaidupalem on the city outskirts is almost a case study on managing death, funeral ceremony and memorial services. The project was initiated by the Mahaprasthana Seva Samithi comprising the Rotary Club of Tirupati, Arya Vysya Officials and Professionals’ Association (AVOPA), Veerabahu Satya Harischandra Hindu Rudrabhoomi Society and supported by the Municipal Corporation of Tirupati (MCT), with the aim to bid a decent adieu to the deceased, while protecting the environment.
This is said to be the first LPG-fired crematorium in Andhra Pradesh, where mechanisation, automation and digitisation have touched a new high. The gas chamber has six burners on its three sides that run for an hour at 800-1200 degrees temperature to reduce the mortal remains into ashes weighing 3-4 kg, consuming a full cylinder weighing 14.2 kg of LPG. “The soot and ash is diverted into a water tank, while the billowing smoke is pushed up via a 100 ft-tall chimney, causing no harm to environment,” MSS president T. Damodaram told The Hindu . The ash (for performing funeral rites) is collected from the chamber behind. The entire process is mechanised, right from pushing the body into the gas chamber and firing the system to disposal of the remains.
Thanks to the Wi-Fi facility and CCTV cameras, the ceremony can be viewed remotely. “NRIs can watch the funeral rites of their dear ones on getting our IP address,” avers Rotary Club's past president V. Jayaram Prasad. “Besides a fully computerised system, we have halls for holding last rites and memorial meetings, lockers to store remnants, a tonsuring centre, toilets, R.O. and U.V. treated water and a separate waiting hall for women-specific rituals,” vice-president M.N. Sivakumar adds. “The Aadhaar-linked system helps check the identity of the deceased and his/her representative,” chips in secretary M. Nageswara Rao. The Effluent Treatment Plant recycles water to be used for gardening.
There are two firing units, each costing ₹30 lakh, with an installed capacity to handle eight bodies a day. The State government provided ₹30 lakh while Kolkata-based donor Prakash Chaudhury donated ₹39 lakh, the MCT laid the roads and built the compound wall and scores of donors contributed in cash and kind.
The organisers borrowed the idea from Coimbatore, where there are six such crematoria.