Construction of gas crematorium, started in 2017, yet to be over
Since its outbreak last year, COVID-19 has claimed 18 lives in Amballoor panchayat in Ernakulam district.
But none could be cremated there. They had to be taken to the neighbouring panchayats as the gas crematorium in Amballoor has been in the making for the past four years.
Though the panchayat authorities take refuge in the argument that majority of them died outside the limits of the panchayat, the fact remains that things would not have been any different had they breathed their last in their home panchayat.
The construction of the gas crematorium, estimated a shade over ₹1 crore and funded jointly by the district panchayat and Amballoor panchayat though the latter’s contribution remains limited to ₹7.50 lakh, started in 2017. It was even inaugurated just ahead of the local body poll last year. But it proved to be a symbolic affair.
“Certification from the Pollution Control Board (PCB) is yet to be received while some works as asked by the Fire and Rescue Services Department also need to be completed. Everything will be wrapped up in a couple of months,” said Biju Thomas, Amballoor panchayat president.
Panchayat Secretary Sameena B. said that the second PCB inspection was held only last week as it was delayed by the pandemic. “Work on a water storage tank also remains to be completed. Some of the inadequacies cited have already been rectified,” she said.
A.P. Subhash, an opposition panchayat member and a former district panchayat member during whose tenure the project was undertaken, said that the previous LDF governing committee had tendered the remaining works for ₹32 lakh just ahead of the election. “We had completed all paper works ahead of the local body polls. The new governing committee could have wrapped it by now but did nothing,” he said.
At a time when an elaborate protocol has to be followed in the case of cremation of victims of the pandemic, the absence of an own crematorium continues to pose a logistical nightmare to the panchayat.
As of now, Amballoor remains dependent on neighbouring panchayats like Mulanthuruthy and Edakkattuvayal for cremating its dead.
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