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Workers at Nigambodh Ghat crematorium ensure dignity in death to COVID-19 victims, collect ashes for families

·2 min read
A worker collecting ashes at Nigambodh Ghat crematorium (Photo/ANI)
A worker collecting ashes at Nigambodh Ghat crematorium (Photo/ANI)

By Archana Prasad

New Delhi [India], May 15 (ANI): With Delhi reeling under the impact of second wave of COVID-19 which has seen rise in fatalities, the workers at city crematoriums have their hands full. They continue to serve in high risk of exposure to coronavirus by assisting families in performing the last rites of COVID-19 victims.

Workers at the Nigambodh Ghat crematorium begin their work at 7 am and collect ashes of people who succumb to COVID-19.

Sanjay Sharma, who works at the ghat, said the ashes are stored in a separate lockers in the cremation ground which are later collected by families.

Sharma said many a time when the entire family is COVID positive, they perform the last rites on behalf of the family and the ashes of the COVID victims are then stored in a separate locker room with a designated number.

"The facility was specifically made for COVID-infected deaths. Sometimes families say it will not be possible for them to come and collect the ashes. We keep them in case somebody turns up after some days. It is not people's fault. If the whole family is infected we have to help them. We start this work from 7 am. Around 10 to 15 people are here for this work," Sharma told ANI.

"We do hesitate since it is a pandemic. I feel afraid sometimes as I also have a family. We don't get any support from the government," he added.

Not many have access to a PPE kit, face shield or even a proper medical mask. Some work with cloth masks.

General secretary of Nigambodh Ghat crematorium Suman Kumar Gupta said last rites are also being performed of people who die of causes other than COVID-19.

"People usually collect ashes next day but due to COVID, it takes longer now. We also call them if they do not collect for many days. If they're unreachable, we keep ashes aside. We take unclaimed ashes to Haridwar later," he said.

Gupta said there was delay in collecting ashes of the deceased last year also during the first wave of COVID-19.

"We did this last year too. Sometimes when everyone in family is infected, they cannot even come here to perform the last rites. In such cases, it takes days for any family member to collect the remains," he said. (ANI)

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