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Rising number of open cremations in Covid deaths: Pune Housing Societies move Bombay HC citing air pollution

open cremations in Covid deaths

A Public Interest Litigation has been filed in Bombay High Court by Six Pune Housing Societies, referring to the air pollution caused by the increasing number of open cremations in Covid-19 deaths.

Advocates Ajinkya Udane and Asim Sarode filed the petition for the Housing Societies.

The petition states that the crematorium at Navi Peth, Pune, is cremating more than 100 dead bodies a day despite having a capacity only for the cremation of 20 bodies per day. 

The petition also mentioned that the dead bodies of Covid-19 victims are burned along with its plastic covering, causing a lot of black smoke and a foul smell. The petitioners point to the fact that air pollution is a significant cause of morbidities and untimely deaths in the country and needs particular focus in the circumstance of the spread of Covid-19. It was submitted that the smoke rising from the crematoriums could negatively impact the heart and lungs of the residents.

The petitioners also alleged that after the cremation, bones and ashes are collected in gunny bags and dumped in nearby rivers.

The petition submits that the website of Pune Municipal Corporation claims that it has modernised six crematoriums with eco-friendly technologies. The petitioners allege that this claim of the Corporation is false.

The petitioner claimed that none of the crematoriums is equipped with such eco-friendly technology and that all crematoriums emit smoke. The petitioners also claimed that they have made a survey of all regions of the state and could not find any guidelines issued to address pollution arising from crematoriums.

The petition also alleges corruption in the tendering process for the installation of the electric crematorium. The petitioners' case is that Rs. 2 Crore budgeted by the Corporation for modernising crematoriums has not been effectively utilised.

The existing open-air crematoriums also do not have pollution control measures like a hood, blower, scrubber etc., the petition submits. Further, the chimney design is flawed as it is less than the necessary height, causing the smoke to accumulate at the surface level.

The petitioners seek direction from the court to immediately install pollution control measures in crematoriums and to move the crematoriums out of the residential area. It is also prayed that orders be issued for continuous monitoring of air quality.

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