Mumbai: Dead bodies brought in to Marine Lines crematorium have to wait for their turn

Updated: 25 February, 2020 08:07 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

Of three electric pyres at crematorium, only two are in working condition. Apart from this, the crematorium has seating arrangement for just 40 people with no parking for even ambulances.

Ambulances oustide the crematorium
Ambulances oustide the crematorium

For the past couple of months, the dead bodies brought in at the Chandanwadi crematorium in Marine Lines have had to wait for their turn to be cremated — sometimes hours. The reason being — out of the three electric pyres at the crematorium, only two are in working condition. Not just this, the crematorium has seating arrangements for just 40 people. So, anything above 40 and the mourners have to stand.

On Monday Chandravandan Shah, 69, a businessman was mourning the demise of his cousin, Surekhaben and attended her cremation at Chandawani along with 80 others.
Speaking to mid-day Shah said, "We reached the crematorium around 7.45 am. As the main hall is locked for renovation, we had to perform the rituals in a small access area before the body was placed on the trolley. By then another ambulance arrived along with some 40 people, and they had no space to perform the rituals, as ours were still going on"

"The second set of people had to wait for us to finish the rituals before they could make use of the second electric cremator, but by then another ambulance arrived. On an average, each body takes at least 30-40 minutes to get charred completely, once inside the cremator while the rituals take about one and a half hour," Shah said, who was upset with the situation.

Shah added, "My cousin passed away on Sunday night at Saifee hospital. We have been awake almost the entire night and early morning we came here for cremation. But it is unfortunate that senior citizens and those mourning do not have a place to sit at Chandanwadi. The people who came with the third ambulance surely would have had to wait before they could do the last rites and unfortunately, there is no vehicle parking facility here."

Shah said most Jains don't prefer wood pyre as the logs may have insects in them, which will be killed.

Another relative Sandeep Shah, also a businessman added, "The irony is that we get the death certificate much faster than laying the body to last rites atChandanwadi."

'Bodies came quickly'

When contacted, the crematorium staff confirmed that on Monday there was some inconvenience as three bodies came within a short time.

The crematorium has seating arrangement for just 40 peopleThe crematorium has seating arrangement for just 40 people

"On average we get around five to six bodies daily. In rare cases, we have got eight to ten bodies. But if the bodies come within a short time, then people have to wait, as two of the cremators take around 90 minutes to get charred and ashes to be removed," the staff said.

BMC chief wants fast work

A senior health official, who did not wish to be named said, "Last week the Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi has asked to expedite the Chandanwadi renovation work on a war footing.

The officer added, "It is a rare situation that more than two bodies arrive for cremation within a short span. At present we have two electric cremation furnaces operational at Chandanwadi crematorium and the third one was dismantled for converting it into a Piped Natural Gas (PNG). But for some reasons, the work never started."

Work yet to begin

Rita Makwana, BJP local Corporator said, "The proposal for renovation is going on since 2017. I have written letters to the Municipal Commissioner four times and even after sanctioning a budget of approximate Rs 15 crores, the work is yet to begin."

"As per the design, the new structure would be ground plus one floor, where sufficient seating arrangements will be made. Also, the plan was to have five PNG cremation facility and do away completely with the electric furnace, two of which is working at present," said Makwana.

She said the new structure will have a Shiv temple and a walkway and be built on the lines of Jamnagar's Manekbai Sukhdham, which is known for its sculptors depicting life stories on the crematorium walls.

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First Published: 25 February, 2020 06:15 IST

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