At the Bhadbhada crematorium in Bhopal, people said they have not witnessed such scenes since the Bhopal Gas Disaster in 1984.
Amid a rise in coronavirus cases and deaths in Madhya Pradesh, crematoriums and burial grounds across the state have been flooded with bodies piling up every day. However, major inconsistencies have been found in the official daily COVID-19 death count released by the state government and the number of bodies at funeral grounds.
At the Bhadbhada crematorium in Bhopal, people said they had not witnessed such scenes since the Bhopal Gas Disaster in 1984.
BN Pandey, 54, who came to perform his brother’s funeral said on Tuesday: “During the gas tragedy, when I was in Class 9, we witnessed such pictures. And today, in four hours, I have seen 30-40 dead bodies here.”
Ambulances could be seen lining up with bodies, as many waited along the roadside for their turn to perform the funerals of their loved ones, looking for space to set up the pyres.
Santosh Raguvanshi, who came to cremate his brother-in-law, said he had been waiting for three-four hours. “We can’t perform the last rites as there is no space.”
There were 37 bodies (of people who died of Covid) at Bhadbhada crematorium in Bhopal on Monday. However, the health bulletin for that day mentioned a total of 37 Covid deaths in the entire state — a clear mismatch with the scnes at the funeral grounds.
The fatality figures for the last five days were also found inconsistent.
On April 8, a total of 41 Covid bodies were cremated in Bhopal under COVID-19 protocols but the medical bulletin reported 27 deaths in the entire state. On April 9, 35 bodies were cremated in Bhopal, but the official data said there were 23 Covid-related deaths in the entire state.
On April 10, 56 bodies were cremated in Bhopal, but the government data claimed 24 people died due to coronavirus in the state. On April 11, 68 bodies were cremated in the city, and the government reported a total of 24 deaths in the state. On April 12, 59 bodies were cremated in the city, while the official bulletin stated 37 deaths across the state.
The government said that they are not under-reporting the fatality count.
Medical Education Minister Vishwas Sarang said: “The government has no intention of hiding the death count, we will not get any award by doing so.”
Meanwhile, crematorium workers highlighted their problems — from running out of wood to blisters on their hands.
Rais Khan, a worker at the Bhopal crematorium, said they are sawing 100-150 quintals of wood every day. He said last week they faced a shortage, as 40-45 bodies were coming in every day.
Pradeep Kanojia, another worker, said: “I am feeling weak, getting tired… with the dead bodies too many people are coming and it’s crowded here. We can’t even take a break for lunch..”
Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday recorded its highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases after 8,998 people were detected with the infection, taking the state’s tally to 3,53,632, an official said. The day also saw 40 deaths, taking the count to 4,261, according to official data.