BHOPAL: One year has passed since the Bhadbhada Crematorium Trust has been waiting for the Rs 1 crore they spent on cremating more than 1,650 bodies. The administration, however, lacks the funds to make the payment. In March last year, when the coronavirus hit the state, all departments — including the district administration, police, Bhopal Municipal Corporation, health department and others — came together to fight the killer disease.
At that time, the district administration of Bhopal and BMC decided to help the distressed people in many ways. First to help them in performing last rites, BMC decided to provide transportation of the body to the crematorium and district administration decided to provide the amount to conduct the funeral.
The manager of the Bhadbhada Crematorium Trust, Laad Singh, informed Free Press that the administration held a meeting with the trust officials and assured them that they would provide Rs 5,000 per body cremated. The first body came for cremation on April 19, he added, and, since then, more than 1,752 bodies of corona-infected patients were cremated at the crematorium till March 31, 2021. But the administration paid the amount for only 72 bodies.
When the bodies were sent to the crematorium, the private and government hospital authorities gave the information to the families of the deceased that they “will not charge for the cremation expenses”. The district administration paid the amount for 72 bodies but, since then, the onus of paying for performing the last rites seems to have fallen on the Trust.
“The trustees had invested the amount from their own pockets and, now, Rs 20 lakh has to be given to the forest department and Rs 12 lakh to a private vendor,” Singh added. He said that, when the district administration did not give the promised amount and the pockets of the trustees ran empty, they started taking Rs 3,000 from the families of those deceased.
The families, sometimes, run into disputes with the crematorium workers, saying they will not pay up as the hospital has given them the assurance that “the government will pay the amount”. The families are assured that, if and when the amount comes, the trust is going to return the amount. But, when people call us up to ask for the money, we have to reply in the negative.”
Radhye Shyam Agarwal, one of the trustees, said that he, too, had given a sizeable amount from his pocket, but had lost all hopes of getting the money back.
ADM Umrao Maravi said that, earlier, the amount was given to the trust from Red Cross Society, but, since then, no payment had been made. He said that the government had not announced any scheme to pay the amount for last rites — it was a local arrangement of the district administration. It was not a government or administration scheme.
‘Lost hopes of salvation’
"The delay in getting the payment is an impediment to the salvation of the souls," said Radhye Shyam Agarwal, one of the trustees.