Surat: Mass cremations are being reported in Gujarat amid rising COVID death tolls. The Times of India reported that up to five people were burned in a pyre 18 feet long and eight feet wide. As per the report, such cremations are common in Surat.
Authorities decided to carry out the cremation because bodies had piled up. They also added that they were helpless in this regard. Scenes of mass cremation at Kailash Mokshadham Cemetery in Surat have been circulating on social media. "In most cases, bodies are cremated alone. But as the number of corpses increased, five are placed on a pyre. They are cremated at a distance of 3 meters," the cemetery trustee Praveen Patel told The Times of India.
Even small vans carry three bodies at a time, from both government and private hospitals. The vans are parked near a large pyre. At Kailash Mokshadham alone, there are three huge pyres running constantly. The cemetery is currently inaccessible to private individuals. No photography or videography is allowed.
Government hiding data
The allegations that the government is not releasing accurate death statistics are strong. According to the data released by the Municipal corporations of Surat, Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Rajkot, an average of 25 deaths occur per day within the limits of their corporations. But locals say the actual toll is much higher.
In Bharuch, official figures state 36 people were killed in eight days. But 260 people who died of COVID infection have been cremated in the cemetery here in the same period. At the SSG Hospital in Vadodara, the largest hospital in central Gujarat, 180 deaths were reported in nine days. In two government hospitals in Vadodara alone, 350 COVID deaths occurred in a week. But the government estimates say that there have only been a total of 300 deaths in the Vadodara district so far.
In Rajkot, 298 people died of COVID between April 8-14. However, the government records only show 57. Dharmesh Solanki, who led the cremations on the banks of the Narmada River, said, "We receive 22-25 bodies a day for a week. 7500 kg of firewood is required every day."
Meanwhile, the Gujarat High Court has criticized the government for its handling of the situation. Chief Justice Vikram Nath said that things would not have been so serious if precautions had been taken earlier.