Two bodies being stuffed in one cabinet at Sassoon mortuary

In yet another incidence of alleged negligence by authorities at the state-run Sassoon Hospital, it has come to the fore that the cold storage facility at its mortuary has developed a glitch due to which 14 of the 32 freezer cabinets have been rendered useless for over a month now. As a result, workers at the mortuary at times preserve two bodies in one cabinet. 

Space crunch: Sources claim 14 out of 32 cold storage cabinets is forcing the mortuary staff to stuff two bodies in a single cabinet at times. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

“There are 32 cold storage cabinets in the mortuary, out of which 14 have stopped working after they were hit by a technical snag. This problem has been going on for more than a month now. Though, technically, only one body is to be kept per cold storage cabinet, at times we have no choice but to store two bodies in one cabinet,” said a mortuary official.

The official added that 10 to 20 bodies come to the mortuary daily of which some are claimed by the relatives of the deceased. The remaining ones are preserved in the cabinets.

When contacted, mortuary authorities passed the buck onto the Public Works Department (PWD) stating that it had failed to send technicians to repair the defunct cabinets.

“We have sent several letters to the PWD, asking it to send technicians to repair the non-working cabinets. But we haven’t received any response from them till date,” said a mortuary technician.

Commenting on the issue, PWD Deputy Electrical Engineer Ravindra Katode said the repair work was underway and all the cabinets would be restored in the next two days.

“Of the eight cabinets, there is a major glitch in two. While the compressor of one cabinet has failed, the other cabinet’s coil has stopped working. Both these cabinets will be repaired in the next two days.”

Katode said the PWD had received a letter from the HOD of the Sassoon Hospital a week ago, stating that a few of the cold storage cabinets in the mortuary had stopped working.

When the matter was brought to notice of BJMC Dean Dr Ajay Chandanwale, he maintained that only four cold storage facilities had stopped working and that too five days ago, and they would be restored soon.

“As per the information from the forensic department, four out of 32 cold storage cabinets in the mortuary developed a glitch five days ago, and they will be repaired by tomorrow evening. There is no question of storing a body in a dysfunctional facility when several cabinets are in working condition,” he said.

Dr D G Kulkarni, superintendent of the Sassoon Hospital, said he had no idea about he present status of the situation at the mortuary, but asserted that the non-working cabinets would be repaired soon. 

“I don’t know the details as to how many cabinets have stopped functioning, but the authorities are looking into the matter and the cabinets will be restored at the earliest,” he said. 

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