Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): As the coronavirus pandemic rages in Madhya Pradesh, there is also an increase in the number of the urns containing ashes of the dead being kept at the Bhopal's only crematorium where the last rites of COVID-19 patients are allowed, an office bearer of the crematorium said on Saturday.
Bhadbhada Vishramghat's management committee secretary Mamtesh Sharma told PTI that more than 150 urns containing ashes are currently kept in the lockers at the crematorium even as the number of lockers is being increased to create the space for the storage of at least 500 urns.
Bhadbhada Vishramghat is the only Hindu crematorium in Bhopal where cremation of COVID-19 victims is allowed. However, people are also going to other crematoriums because of the rise in COVID-19 deaths, he said.
“More than 150 urns are currently kept in lockers here. On average, 10 to 15 urns are currently being kept in the lockers here every day due to the rising number of deaths…This is for the first time when such a large number of urns are being kept in the lockers,” Sharma said.
He said the renovation of the Bhadbhada Vishramghat was halted due to the pandemic. “We are now creating the space for 500 lockers to keep the urns containing ashes. An additional locker room is also being constructed to deal with the situation,” Sharma added.
He said at least a dozen urns kept inside the lockers contained ashes of those people who had died "during the first wave of COVID-19", but their kin never turned up to collect them.
Sharma claimed approximately 1,100 bodies have been cremated at the Vishramghat so far this month. "Of them, around 800 bodies were cremated with the COVID-19 protocol, Sharma said.
He caimed that 81 bodies were cremated at the Vishramghat on April 16.
“Of these 81 bodies, 69 were cremated as per the COVID-19 protocol. Of these 69 bodies, 46 bodies were from Bhopal while the rest 23 were from other parts of Madhya Pradesh,” Sharma said.
On the other hand, the state government put the number of COVID-19 fatalities in Bhopal on Friday at 4 out of the total 60 reported across the state.
In April so far, Bhopal recorded 38 deaths (from April 1 to April 16), as per the state government's health bulletin.
Explaining the difference between the official data on COVID-19 fatalities and the actual number of bodies being brought at crematoriums in the state, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said that the last rites of the suspected coronavirus positive patients were also performed as per the COVID-19 protocols.
"People are dying due to other causes also," he had said.
Minister for Medical Education Vishvas Sarang told reporters that patients from several other districts are coming to Bhopal for the treatment of coronavirus infection, among other things. "This is getting reflected in the situation at the crematoriums," he said.
Bhopal's COVID-19 death toll till Friday night stood at 670 while the case count was 65,222.