The Delhi High Court has expressed concern over the delay in the cremation of COVID-19 victims and said that more cremation infrastructure is urgently needed in the national capital.
"This court has expressed its concern at the delayed cremation of the pandemic related demises. Surely, more cremation infrastructure is needed urgently, while granted some more days to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to operationalise at least two cremation platforms in Delhi's Nithari village," a bench of Justice Najmi Waziri said on Thursday.
Expressing displeasure with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, the high court said that the corporation had already been granted over a week's time to put in place the requisite facility which it had demolished.
"A request, it is granted further time till this Saturday to operationalise, at least, two cremation platforms. All other materials and facilities, which are requisite for the performance of cremations, such as the provision of wood, water, additional shed, toilets, etc shall be ensured by the North MCD so that cremations can be carried out from Sunday onwards," the bench said.
The high court was hearing a plea by village residents, challenging the corporation''s move to demolish the existing cremation platforms and build new sheds for the same contending it does not have the power to enter the gram sabha land and carry out such activities.
It observed that the platforms constructed by the corporation so far were "evidently incomplete and rudimentary".
The court said that there was no provision for protection from the elements, like rain and sun, for even the minimum number of persons who would be allowed to attend a cremation in the prevailing situation.
It also noted the submission of the Delhi government, which had stated that there is an acute shortage of crematoria in view of the increased mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The court was told that the availability of at least a minimum of two cremation platforms was imperative and the same should be immediately put in place and be operationalised by the MCD, to which the court agreed.
The petition further raised concern regarding the tin-sheds at crematoriums set up to provide shade to mourners attending a cremation.
"If a maximum of 20 persons as allowed to attend a cremation -- during the current pandemic safety precaution, then for two simultaneous cremations the numbers of mourners would be at least 40. Adding the medical, police and clergymen/pundits, etc the figure could be 50," the plea said.
"The tin-sheds at crematoriums do not provide any shade or shelter even for 10 persons from the scorching summer sun nor it will provide any shelter from the monsoons that would follow. Also, keeping in mind that these 50 people will need to maintain social distancing of at least six feet from each other, the visitors''/mourners'' shed will have to be fairly large," it added.
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