The government in New Delhi has told the High Court of Delhi that piling up the bodies of COVID-19 victims in a city hospital was the result of unavoidable circumstances, because of a reduced capacity to cremate bodies, the refusal of crematorium workers to handle COVID-19 cases, a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases and a refusal of relatives to come forward to claim the bodies.
Newspapers reported that all 80 storage racks inside the largest COVID-19 mortuary at Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narain Hospital were full, with 28 more bodies on the floor, piled up on top of each other.
“We, as citizens of Delhi are pained at the aforesaid state of affairs and as judges find the situation as reported and if true, to be highly dissatisfactory and violative of the rights of the dead,” read the order of the court delivered on 28 May.
The city government told the court that situation was accentuated by a fault in the electric crematorium, close to the COVID-19 mortuary. It told the court that the hospital has been authorised to divert the bodies to crematoriums in other parts of the city, and to cremate in wood-fired and CNG-fired crematoriums, with personal protection gears for all workers, and extended crematorium hours.
The government told the court on Friday that 28 bodies were cremated on Thursday and another 35 would be cremated on Saturday and that only those bodies, which were required for any investigation would be retained.
There have been 316 deaths due to COVID-19 in Delhi and the main mortuary for the deceased is at Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narain Hospital.
Delhi has recorded the third highest caseload of COVID-19 patients with 16,281 after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu states. 7,495 patients have been cured and discharged in Delhi, according to the federal Health Ministry.