Burial of coronavirus victims turns a logistical challenge for Bengaluru’s BBMP

Civic officials ET spoke with said the city’s graveyards are congested places with small entry gates, making it difficult for earthmovers to enter and dig a grave. Since the protocol to dispose of the body of Covid-19 victim mandates a 10ft-deep g...

PTI
The community leaders have asked the state government to approve use of land already allotted for the Church.
BENGALURU: Grieving families of Bengaluru’s Covid-19 victims are facing a challenge in performing the last rites as per their religion.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is cremating the bodies of coronavirus victims irrespective of choices based on religion or communities, according to some people who have lost a family member.

Civic officials ET spoke with said the city’s graveyards are congested places with small entry gates, making it difficult for earthmovers to enter and dig a grave. Since the protocol to dispose of the body of Covid-19 victim mandates a 10ft-deep grave, using earthmovers has become a necessity.


“But there is no space for earthmovers to move in the cemeteries,” BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad said.

In the first week of July, the state government announced it was allocating 35 acres of land on the city’s outskirts to bury or cremate those who had succumbed to Covid-19. But those living close to the land parcel strongly opposed the move.

“We are now left with no other option but to cremate bodies irrespective of community or religion the deceased belongs to,” the commissioner told ET.
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Twelve crematoriums are within BBMP limits and the municipal body is currently making use of four crematoriums for Covid victims.

However, the government’s arrangement has got into religious crosshairs, as some communities are unhappy with religious sentiments not being taken into consideration.

JA Kantharaj, public relations officer of the Archdiocese of Bangalore, said cemeteries in the city have already exceeded capacity. “Cremation is unacceptable in our community. We have petitioned the government and ministers to provide us with an alternative at the earliest,” he said.

Kantharaj said burying bodies in the existing cemeteries has faced stiff resistance from people living in the neighbourhood because of the misconception attached to the spread of infection from the dead. “Even then, if the earthmover makes its way to a congested graveyard, maximum two bodies can be buried in a day,” he said.
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The community leaders have asked the state government to approve use of land already allotted for the Church. “If the government approves, we can use it to bury Covid victims,” he said.

Meanwhile, some grieving families are taking the help of volunteers and NGOs. Jamia Masjid Imam Maulana Maqsood Imran said volunteers from the community were assisting the BBMP and families to take the body to Kabarstan (graveyard). “The body is disposed of in a 10ft-deep pit,” Maulana said.
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