'2nd electric furnace needed at Vaikunth Smashanbhoomi'

The staff members at Vaikunth Smashanbhoomi near Navi Peth say there is a dire need for a second electric cremation furnace on the premises as they find it difficult to cope with the workload with just the one furnace that exists today.

Kin of the deceased wait outside the electric crematorium to perform last rites Pics/Krunal Gosavi and Vivek Sabnis

The staffers report an increased preference for the electric cremation furnace for last rites these days compared to the traditional wooden pyre or the diesel furnace, which are also available at the crematorium. They said the problem is brought into sharp focus on full moon and new moon days, when it is observed that the number of bodies brought in for cremation rises to anywhere between 20 and 26.

Relatives of the dead have also complained about the long wait for the completion of last rites at the electric cremation facility and demanded one more electric furnace. Anil Solapurkar, a resident of Manki Baug on Sinhagad Road, said the family of a relative of his who recently passed away had to wait three hours at the electric crematorium because there were other bodies waiting for cremation.

“We have now demanded one more electric furnace,” Solapurkar said. “I had to wait for three hours to perform the final rites of a relative recently as there were three bodies waiting before us along with the bereaved relatives.” Stating that the inflow of bodies goes up during new moon and full moon days, staffers said that there was an urgent need for an additional electric cremation furnace.

“Recently, on Amavasya, we cremated 26 bodies,” a technical employee working at the crematorium said. “The number of bodies that are brought in for cremation is anywhere between 20 and 26 on full moon and new moon days. I don’t know the reason behind this increase in number every Purnima and Amavasya, but we urgently need one more electric crematorium at Vaikunth to cope with this phenomenon.”

The gate of Vaikunth Smashanbhoomi. Pics/Krunal Gosavi and Vivek Sabnis

The staffer said that in recent days a high number of cremations had taken place on April 5 and 2, May 6 and 20, June 4 and 19 and July 2. “Vaikunth is known for properly-performed last rites, so people contact us in large numbers for the same,” Prashant Moghe Guruji, a Hindu priest who performs last rites, said. “It is true that the number of cremations is more on Purnima and Aamavasya. On such days I perform final rites on as many on 20 bodies.”

PMC junior engineer Shivaji Mahanor, who looks after the maintenance and repair works of the electricals at the crematorium, said people from Kothrud, Katraj and even Pimpri-Chinchwad come to the crematorium to perform final rites on the deceased. “The crematorium spans seven acres and has many facilities. We ensure a 24-hour power supply to the electric crematorium,” he said.

Local corporators Vaishali Bodke and Vinayak Hanamghar along with PMC officials and Standing Committee chairperson Baburao Chandere recently visited the crematorium. “It has been in-principal agreed that one more electric crematorium will be installed at the Vaikunth,” Bodke said.

Did you know?
>> There are 16 crematoriums in the city
>> Vaikunth Smashanbhoomi is the only crematorium looked after by the PMC. The remaining 15 have been outsourced
>> From 1971 to July 12, a total of 1,22,615 bodies have been cremated at the electric crematorium 

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