A day after crematorium staff complained about dead bodies lining up through the day and night, resulting in fatigue, Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka on Thursday said that the government has identified a four-acre land in Thavarekere on the outskirts of Bengaluru, which will be opened for cremation of COVID-19 dead bodies. After attending a meeting virtually with Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, the minister told reporters that the government was in search of land that should be in the vicinity of Bengaluru, where bodies could be cremated openly.
"This four-acre land is already a functional cemetery. Here, we stocked 20 truckloads of firewood and sunk-in borewell too, besides drawing up power lines," he added. He said that this new facility would help to reduce queues at various crematoriums in Bengaluru that are overcrowded with bodies.
Ashoka claimed that the new cremation ground can handle 50 to 60 bodies on a daily basis as per traditions, and it will be open for the public from Friday. "Even though we have stocked 20 truckloads of firewood, we have taken steps to arrange 100 loads of firewood by cutting down eucalyptus trees," he said.
Apart from this, the minister said that the state government had also identified another 100-acre land about 3 km from Thavarekere, which would be ready by the weekend. Besides opening up two cremation grounds, the minister observed that the government's decision to allow bereaved families to bury or cremate in their own land would certainly reduce burden on overcrowded cremation facilities in Bengaluru.
Rebutting claims that the number of deaths were being under reported by the government, Ashoka said that bodies from surrounding areas, which are within the radius of 15-20 km from Bengaluru, were coming to utilise cremation facilities in the city, which had led to overcrowding.
"For the sole reason of burning bodies, people are getting them to Bengaluru from hospitals located in a 15-20 km radius. That's why, there's this burden. Rural COVID-19 patients from Magadi, Ramanagara, Channapatna and Devanahalli are coming to the city for hospitalisation," he said.
On April 20, Ashoka had directed district administrations in the state to identify government land to perform the cremation of COVID-19 patients. This decision had come after crematoriums in Bengaluru reported long queues and an influx of dead bodies in front of crematoriums.
On Thursday, Karnataka reported a staggering 25,795 new cases of COVID-19 of which Bengaluru accounted for 15,244 cases. Authorities said that 123 people also died in Karnataka after contracting the disease on Thursday, of which 68 were from Bengaluru, taking the total death toll of the state to 13,885.