Mumbai: Why the smell of death is invading Shivaji Park homes

The electric unit of the crematorium in the area has been shut since four months, forcing families to use wooden pyres for the last rites; this fills nearby houses with smoke and the smell of burning bodies

It’s a bad time to be living near the Shivaji Park crematorium. With the electric unit of the crematorium being shut for the past four months, residents of the area are having to contend with the smell of burning bodies as well as smoke entering their houses.

A wooden pyre at the crematorium
A wooden pyre at the crematorium

Ever since the BMC declared the crematorium’s electric crematory a dilapidated structure and prohibited its use from June 1, cremations are being done the old-fashioned way using wood. “After the electric unit was shut down, the smoke and odour coming from the crematorium has increased a lot. People living in the upper floors are facing serious problems because of this.

The BMC noticeThe BMC notice

Things get worse when the wind blows in the direction of our building. The houses are completely filled with smoke then, and people can’t even breathe properly,” said Rajesh Sawant, secretary, Ripple co-operative housing society.

The last rites of nearly 12 bodies are conducted at the Shivaji Park crematorium every day, and it has eight designated spots for cremation on wooden pyres.

Sometimes, the bodies come at the same time and the intensity of the smoke and the smell are much higher. “The situation is so bad that even the clothes put out for drying have black patches on them because of the smoke,” said a resident from the area.

While the BMC notice states that the electric crematory will begin functioning as soon as repairs are done and asks people to use the unit at Bhoiwada crematorium until then, most families opt for the wooden pyres instead of transporting the body again.

Suhas Joshi (65), who had gone to the Shivaji Park crematorium for the last rites of his mother, said, “If the electric unit was functioning, we would have preferred that. But now, we have no option but to use a wooden pyre.”

BMC speak
“The crematorium was declared dilapidated in June and the structural auditor had suggested that we pull it down. We had decided to construct a new electric crematory then. A few days back, however, a meeting was held between the BMC director and executive health officer, and it was decided that a second structural audit would be conducted. Once we get that report, we will decide whether to repair or demolish it,” said Assistant Municipal Commissioner of G/North ward office, Sharad Ughade.

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  • Savio Soares05-Feb-2015

    Why is the BMC taking so long to fix the electric crematorium, I have a feeling that this has to doo with the wood. Does anyone know how much it is use wood and the difference in using the electric crematorium. Somebody is making money somehow over the sale of wood and are using this ploy to extract money from people who are already grieving. Mid-Day should investigate.

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