The Greater Chennai Corporation has warned families of COVID-19 victims against brokers and middlemen who charge them for conducting funerals. This comes after the Chennai civic body received several complaints where touts and middlemen pose as family members of persons who died due to COVID-19, ask crematoriums for slots that free of charge, and later “sell” these slots to the family members for a hefty amount. "The middlemen are booking slots posing as close relatives of the dead person and are simply selling these slots later at a price ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000,” a senior officer with Greater Chennai Corporation told IANS.
However, the Greater Chennai Corporation is not charging a single rupee for funerals of people who die due to COVID-19, the officer said. The civic body has started creating awareness among the public through social media platforms and local newspapers, stressing that crematoriums are not charging families of COVID-19 victims. The civic body also said that they are not levying any transportation charges too.The civic body is also running real-time monitoring of burial grounds within its limits.
The Chennai Corporation officials ask for the names of the close relatives and the date of death when they receive calls for booking a slot in the crematorium. An officer said that brokers call the crematorium and when questions regarding the details of the dead person are posed, they hang up. The GCC is now getting testimonials from family members of the deceased.
On May 20, the Chennai Corporation had launched a helpline where the public, including families of COVID-19 victims, can alert officials if they are being overcharged for cremation or burial. They can dial 044 25384520 or WhatsApp at 9498346900 to register their complaints. The Corporation is also providing a free hearse vehicle for families. They can avail the survive by dialling 155377.
The Corporation also provided special blue-coloured uniforms for the staff at crematoriums that fall under the south region of the Chennai civic body limits. “Crematorium Helper” is emblazoned on the jersey in Tamil to help families identify the staff and not fall prey to brokers.
The Chennai Corporation has 199 burial ground as well as 41 electric crematoriums across 37 locations. Many of the crematoriums function till 10.30 pm.
(With IANS input)