What’s worse, a lot of them who don’t have a private vehicle are forced to ferry the bodies in a garbage van.
One such incident was reported in Butibori’s Juni Basti locality where a Covid deceased patient was taken to the crematorium in a garbage van. A similar incident was reported in Hingna tehsil where a body was taken in a tempo from Lata Mangeshkar Hospital to city’s Ambazari ghat for the last rites.
Given the acute shortage of hearse vans and ambulances, especially in the rural areas of #Nagpur, many are forced t… https://t.co/sdn5pEmkpf
— TOI Nagpur (@TOI_Nagpur) 1621679661000
A senior official from Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) health department confirmed that relatives of Covid deceased were facing severe difficulties to arrange for a hearse van or an ambulance to take the bodies from hospitals and homes to crematoriums.
The Regional Transport Office (Nagpur rural) data revealed that not a single hearse van is registered with it as against 168 registered ambulances.
“Everyday the NMC is receiving calls from hospitals like Lata Mangeshkar Hospital (Hingna), Swami Vivekananda Hospital (Khapri), Gaikwad Hospital (Khapri) for a hearse van or an ambulance to allow relatives to transport bodies to crematoriums,” the official said.
According to residents of Juni Wasti in Butibori, in the last one week, at least two Covid deceased were taken in garbage lifting vehicles to crematorium (on May 13, Jairam Neware (45) and on May 18, Shakuntala Khandare (70) – who died while in home isolation). “Both the bodies had been taken in a garbage van of Butibori Municipal Council,” social worker and a resident of Butibori, Tushar Darekar, told TOI.
Relatives of Covid victims from rural Nagpur told TOI that even if they manage to find an ambulance, drivers charge anywhere between Rs5,000 and Rs10,000 for even a short distance.
Unlike NMC, which has pressed 11 hearse vans and four minibuses for ferrying bodies to crematoriums, they alleged that in rural Nagpur there were no such arrangements. Even zilla parishad officials were not approachable and the condition is deplorable, the relatives said.
Despite repeated attempts, district health officer Deepak Selokar was not available for comment. ZP president Rashmi Barve too did not respond to TOI’s calls.
Former ZP president Sandhya Gotmare admitted that rural areas lack ambulances and hearses vans. “The pandemic has caused fatalities of unprecedented proportions. The crisis for hearse vans, ambulances was never felt before,” she said adding that on Friday Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari dedicated three ambulances procured from MLC Girish Vyas’ local area development fund. “These ambulances will be utilized for rural Nagpur only,” she said.