No more space to bury the dead in Anantapur

Deccan Chronicle.  | dc correspondent

Nation, In Other News

Long line of ambulances with bodies seen anytime

Increase in death toll due to the second wave of Covid-19, burial grounds in the city are running out of space. (Representational Photo: PTI)

ANANTAPUR: Amid increase in death toll due to the second wave of Covid-19, burial grounds in the city are running out of space, with the result that the Covid victims are being denied dignity in death. And their kin are lamenting inability to bid the last farewell properly.  

A majority of burial grounds are informing the carriers of the dead that there is no more space. At some grounds, the situation is so dire that partially decomposed bodies are being dug out from graves to accommodate new bodies.

It is learnt that around 20 bodies are arriving for last rites in cremated in Anantapur headquarters alone, as villagers around it are refusing to allow cremation of the bodies brought from outside.

This has resulted in cramming of graveyards in the city. Amid a body pile-up, thick fumes of smoke are seen billowing out. Add to it is the smell of burnt that hangs heavily in the air in the surroundings.

Due to absence of electric crematoriums, graveyard staff are hard put to source firewood from sawmills. About 3.5 tonnes of dry firewood is needed to burn a body of average size.

For instance, at the 6th Road Dahana Vatika, which belongs to Brahmin community and provides free cremation of bodies of all castes and creeds, its secretary Raghavendra Joshi said, “We are conducting final rites with the help of donors including for firewood.” One among them is AGS Trust supplying firewood at Dahana Vatika. Trust chairman A.G. Anilkumar Reddy donated about 40 tonnes of firewood along with Covid care kits to staff so far.

Compounding the gravity of the situation is a peculiar custom more prevalent in Rayalaseema region than in coastal areas and even Telangana. Here only four castes prefer to burn the dead and the rest are bound by tradition to bury the bodies. This has resulted in heavy demand for the fast shrinking space at the burial grounds. A long line of ambulances can be witnessed at the burial grounds across the region. The situation is so desperate that a district official had to conduct final rites of her husband about 80 km away at Penukonda, as there was a long queue at the burial ground near JNTUA Road in Anantapur last month.

“Anantapur Hindu Smashana Vatika is struggling to find space to bury Covid-19 victims. All the burial grounds, be it Hindu Smashana Vatika, Khabar or Christian Cemetery, were established 50 years back,” said Goutham Buddha Association president Dr Suresh Babu.  He rued that miscreants were digging the pits for precious ornaments and leaving behind the bodies thus taken out of pits. A putrid smell emanates from most of the graveyards due to digging of graves.

Dr Babu stressed the need to make people aware of the importance of donation of organs. Their organisation already got consent from 126 people.