As Covid deaths continue to rise, North DMC brings in 13 hearse vans into service

With crematoriums inundated, bodies waiting in long queues and ambulances charging hefty sums, North DMC Mayor assigns more hearse vans for cremation 

The North Delhi Municipal Corporation Mayor Jai Prakash told Patriot 13 hearse vans have been ordered to take bodies to cremation grounds. One van will be deputed for each cremation site specifically to bring those who have died at home.

These vans should be brought into service from May 1 or May 2, according to the Mayor. In the last 24 hours Delhi has witnessed 395 deaths, according to the State health bulletin but the reality is, there will be many who have died at home with close to no beds available in hospitals.

Prakash said that while he wrote to the Delhi government requesting for 100 ambulances and hearse vans two days ago, there is no word on the request.  With private ambulances charging people about ten times the cost, to be taken to hospitals or to crematoriums – Rs 10,000 for 4 kms is one example that has emerged – the shortage of public ambulances is being felt by the city, along with life saving oxygen support, hospital beds, and medicines. The city’s (and the country’s) health infrastructure is laying bare all its inadequacies.

“If government ambulances are brought in, this problem will also cease. The government’s responsibility is to provide services,” Prakash says, but adds that his office has given an order for the 13 vans, citing an excuse for the small number, without being asked “we can’t order more because we have a funds problem.”  

A fund problem which has existed since the countrywide lockdown was imposed in March of 2020, is something the municipality is still banking on.

For now, their motive is to help those families who have lost someone, take the bodies to crematoriums with dignity. “Those who have died in the hospital will get an ambulance, but what about those who die at home how will he come (be brought to the cremation ground)?… If four people take the body on their shoulders, they will be automatically positive.”

The email to the Delhi government also contains a request to see that the forest department permits the MCD “to take wood for cremation, if tomorrow we have the need for it.”

Crematoriums are inundated, with bodies waiting in queues. The South MCD is planning to set up temporary platforms at a three-acre plot in Dwarka Sector 29, where a pet dog crematorium was supposed to be opened. Pyres are being built in parking lots; the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has decided to operate a crematorium in Ghazipur round-the-clock.

It’s a disaster in the Capital city, with now 15,772 deaths officially. And 97,977 active positive cases which are accounted for. 

(Cover: The body of a Covid-19 victim at Sarai Kale Khan crematorium, on April 28, 2021 in New Delhi, India // Photo via Getty Images)

+ posts