Give unclaimed bodies some dignity in death

Unclaimed bodies have been piling up at the four state-run post-mortem centres in the city since January even though the rulebook states that the respective police stations have to dispose of the bodies within 15 days. The accumulation of corpses at these centres poses health risks to the staff and the efficiency of the equipment there.

Shockingly, 129 unclaimed dead bodies await disposal at post-mortem centres in JJ, Cooper, Rajawadi and Bhagwati hospitals since January this year. Maybe, the police have to look at a small though focussed department that can handle this issue and see that the disposal of the bodies is expedited.

Those bodies that are not mutilated can be given to medical institutions that want bodies for medical students to learn. This would make up for the shortfall in bodies for the medical institutions.

Divisional Assistant Commissioner of Police should utilise his powers to certify the dead bodies. The police has the power but they are not using them, leading to a huge surplus of bodies and there are not enough facilities to keep all these bodies. It is a question of numbers outstripping the facilities within the centres.

The bodies also need to be embalmed. These bodies are not embalmed leading them to rot. Since, embalming costs approximately Rs 1,200 for a body, these funds are not available to preserve the bodies. Apparently, there is no dignity in death for those that have nobody to claim them.

There is also a serious lack of facilities or infrastructure at many centres. In many instances the air-conditioning is inadequate. Temperatures are not maintained at the required rate. The result is an unbearable stench which has permeated even outside the centres.

It is evident that quick, concerted and determined action has to be taken. First tackle the current number of excess bodies and then, take long-term steps to alleviate the situation. The morgue needs to become a safe, hygienic and efficient place to store dead bodies, which then can be disposed of in a dignified manner.

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