Hardly any re­spect for the de­parted souls here

Bod­ies be­ing cre­mated in open pyres; fam­i­lies en­dure a painful wait

Sunday Express - - CHENNAI - SAHAYA NOVINSTON LOBO @Chen­nai

“MODERN cre­ma­to­rium” – Reads the en­trance arch of the cre­ma­to­rium at Tiru­vot­triyur. But, in­side, the bod­ies are still be­ing burnt in open pyres and clearly there is noth­ing modern about it.

The rea­son is that even eight months af­ter cy­clone ‘Var­dah’ dam­aged the chim­ney of this bio­gas cre­ma­to­rium, the city cor­po­ra­tion is yet to re­pair it. So the NGO staff who are run­ning the cre­ma­to­rium have re­turned to old ways of burn­ing bod­ies.

But, the real prob­lem is that the shed in the cre­ma­to­rium can at best ac­com­mo­date three pyres at a time.

As peo­ple al­ways want the cre­ma­tion only dur­ing the fixed hours, they are forced to wait in queue. Even then they can pay their last rites to their loved ones amidst two other fam­i­lies in the same sit­u­a­tion. Many times, to man­age the crowd, the staff cre­mate the bod­ies out­side the shed.

“All that we want is a re­spectable burial for my grand­fa­ther, but burn­ing a per­son’s body out­side the shed when three other bod­ies are kept in the shed does not seem pay­ing a good sign of burial,” said M Karthick (name changed on re­quest), who had come to cre­mate his grand­fa­ther’s body.

Karthick’s fa­ther in fact picked an ar­gu­ment with the staff at the cre­ma­to­rium as he felt, like many, his fa­ther de­served more re­spect dur­ing the last rites. “Any­one else too would feel the same. Ei­ther the elec­tric cre­ma­to­rium should be opened or the shed for burn­ing the pyre should be ex­panded.”

“The prob­lem with open pyres is that it takes much time (to burn the bod­ies) and the rel­a­tives have to wait,” said the per­son in-charge of the cre­ma­to­rium.

The Tiru­vot­triyur bio­gas cre­ma­to­rium was built in 2011 with a 100-feet tall chim­ney to avoid smoke reach­ing the nearby Tiru­vot­triyur Kup­pam.

On De­cem­ber, 12, 2016, when the city was hit by cy­clone ‘Var­dah’, the chim­ney was bro­ken and now only 30 feet of the chim­ney is left.

In Jan­uary, the staff of In­dian Com­mu­nity Wel­fare Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ICWO), the NGO that is run­ning the cre­ma­to­rium, stopped us­ing the bio­gas crema-

It has been eight months now and the cor­po­ra­tion has not set up the chim­ney. In spite of writ­ing to of­fi­cers, there has been still no re­sponse and they are de­lay­ing the pro­posed works

A cre­ma­to­rium staff

to­rium since the low height of the chim­ney re­sulted in dense smoke spread­ing in the nearby res­i­den­tial area. But the bod­ies were burnt in pyres in a nearby shed.

“It has been eight months now and the cor­po­ra­tion has not re­paired the chim­ney, said one of the staff at the cre­ma­to­rium. “In spite of writ­ing to of­fi­cers there is still no re­sponse and they are de­lay­ing.”

Res­i­dents of nearby ar­eas are the ones who have to deal with smoke and smell that the pyres emit ev­ery day. “We wish they set up the chim­ney and start burn­ing the bod­ies so that there would be less smoke around the area” said Ku­mari Muthu of Tiru­vot­triyur Kup­pam.

When con­tacted, Cor­po­ra­tion of­fi­cials told Ex­press that the need­ful will be done. “The chim­ney would be ready within a week and the bio­gas cre­ma­to­rium will start func­tion­ing soon,” said a zonal cor­po­ra­tion of­fi­cer in charge of the func­tion­ing of the cre­ma­to­rium.

ASH­WIN PRASATH

The place where dead bod­ies are burnt in the open af­ter the chim­ney of Thiru­vot­triyur Elec­tric Cre­ma­to­rium got dam­aged |

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