Makeshift crematoriums, mass funerals, and a dead body every minute define Covid-hit Delhi

Kolkata, India: As the city of Delhi, India's capital runs out of space to cremate its dead, makeshift pyres are being constructed in parks turned crematoriums. 

Workers at the crematorium are currently operating through the night, with relatives of the deceased reportedly having to assist with cremations, piling wood, and assisting in other rituals, the BBC reported. 

Parking lots, parks, and vacant land are now being pursued in Delhi to meet the city's growing demand for cremations. Families are often required to wait for hours before being permitted to cremate their loved ones.

In East Delhi, the Ghazipur crematorium added 20 more pyres in a parking lot. A dead body arrived at the crematorium every minute. 

At the Sarai Kale Khan crematorium, at least 27 new platforms have been constructed, with an additional 80 being added in the park surrounding the current structure.

Scenes of the COVID-19 crisis in Italy and New York City from 2019 seem to show up in India, with an exception of the Hindu majority population here, who are performing the last rites on wooden pyres, instead of cremating on the grounds. 

Reuters images show mass crematorium grounds where piles of dead are being burnt at once, in order to meet the shortage of space and materials. 

In stark contrast to Hindu rituals of burning the dead, which involves many family members, the grim scenes showed crematorium workers doing the final works. 

The death toll in India has been steadily increasing as a deadly second wave of Covid infections devastates the region, with 380 reported in Delhi alone on Monday.

There is a severe shortage of medical oxygen, intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and life-saving medications.

In just a few days, India has reported over a million Covid-19 cases. As the number of Covid deaths in India rises, the first UK help arrived Tuesday. Other nations have pledged support for India. 

The number of confirmed cases fell marginally on Tuesday, from 352,991 the day before to 323,144, taking the total number of Indian cases to nearly 17 million, with 192,000 deaths.

However, it is believed that the real statistics - both for deaths and cases - are much higher.

NDTV discovered that at least 1,150 deaths did not make it onto the city's official Covid list after visiting the city's civic body and seven cremation grounds, over the last week.

Similar instances of undercounting have been discovered in other investigations around the world.

Social media is flooded with frantic calls for assistance with oxygen bottles, life-saving medications, and ICU beds. The city's testing potential has also been exceeded.

US President Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and assured him of America's "unconditional support."

The United States is lifting a ban on shipping raw materials abroad, allowing India to produce more AstraZeneca vaccines. It will also provide medical supplies and protective equipment.

What led to this overwhelming crisis?

Experts and global observers have drawn the gun toward India's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Nared Modi for less prioritizing pandemic planning and focusing on politics, festivals, and propaganda, for India's current crisis. 

In one statement, responding to the backlash, Mr. Modi said, the virus is the enemy, not the government. 

In a series of few months, India was deeply involved in festivals pertaining to its diverse communities across the nation, which often involve huge gatherings and a toss to social distancing norms needed to control the spread of the virus. 

Dr. Navjot Dahiya, national vice-president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), named him a "super spreader" today and chastised him for irresponsibly organizing large political rallies in election-bound states and even allowing the Kumbh Mela during such a critical time.

“While the medical fraternity is trying hard to make people understand mandatory Covid norms, PM Modi did not hesitate to address the big political rallies tossing all Covid norms in the air,” Indian Medical Association Vice President Dr. Dahiya said.

“The scarcity of medical oxygen has become the reason for the death of many patients in every part of the country against the fact that several projects for installing the oxygen are still pending with the Union Government for clearance, but no heed was given to such an important need by the Modi government,” he told the Tribune.

On the last auspicious day of the Kumbh Mela festival, approximately 20,000 pious Hindus gathered on the banks of the Ganges river in the northern city of Haridwar for a bath they believe would wash away their sins.

"We believe Mother Ganga will protect us," a woman on the riverbank told Reuters photographer, where images showed people bathing with few signs of distancing measures, despite calls to be careful.

In recent times to compensate for the lack of beds, India has converted hotels and railway coaches into critical care facilities, but experts predict that the next crisis will be a shortage of healthcare professionals.

"Unfortunately beds do not treat patients - doctors, nurses and paramedics do," Devi Shetty said, a cardiac surgeon and chairman of the Narayana Health chain of hospitals, one of India's foremost. 


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