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Bodies incinerated at one crematorium outnumber Odisha’s total COVID-19 toll

Workers of the Satyanagar city cremation ground preparing to cremate the bodies of coronavirus victims in Bhubaneswar on May 13.   | Photo Credit: BISWARANJAN ROUT

At a time when controversy continues to rage over under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths, one crematorium in Odisha was found to have recorded 3,978 bodies in the second half of 2020 — twice the State’s total COVID-19 toll during the corresponding period.

Information provided by the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) in response to an RTI application says a total of 4,473 bodies were cremated at Satya Nagar crematorium in 2020.

Odisha reported its first COVID-19 death on April 8. In the first six months of 2020 (January to June), the average number of cremations per month was 83 at the Satya Nagar crematorium.

In July 2020, 360 cremations were recorded and August registered incineration of 712 bodies. September registered the highest number of cremations at 1,288. October, November and December recorded gradual decrease in cremations with the numbers at 955, 442 and 221 respectively.

The total bodies cremated at Satya Nagar in the second half was eight times of the bodies disposed of during first six months of 2020.

“If we assume the first six months of 2020 as non-COVID-19 period for Odisha as far as deaths are concerned, the second half saw a dramatic rise in deaths across the State. Ironically, the State’s [official] total COVID-19 death toll is almost half of the bodies cremated at one crematorium,” said Pradip Pradhan, who obtained the information through the RTI Act.

Mr. Pradhan said multiple RTI applications were filed in five municipal corporations seeking the number of bodies disposed of in their respective jurisdictions. Except the BMC, no other civic body supplied information.

In the second wave of the pandemic, the Odisha government has found itself in a spot with regard to the number of COVID-19 deaths recorded. While the State is officially reporting an average 20 COVID-19 deaths per day, district and civic administrations are trying to augment cremation capacity.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 5:37:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bodies-incinerated-at-one-crematorium-outnumber-odishas-total-covid-19-toll/article34581972.ece

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