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Social worker keen to run idle crematorium

Ranchi’s sole electric crematorium, which has never been used much and had recently been declared as faulty by a team of experts, has drawn the attention of Hazaribagh social worker Mohammad Khalid.

The social worker, who is known to serve the dead by cremating unclaimed bodies, shot a letter to deputy commissioner Vinay Choubey on Monday, requesting him to hand over the crematorium run by Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) to his voluntary organisation Murda Kalyan Samiti.

“I came to know from a newspaper report that the crematorium near Harmu Muktidham in Ranchi is not being used. I am keen to operate the facility through my organisation Murda Kalyan Samiti, which will help me perform the last rites of unclaimed bodies,” Khalid told The Telegraph.

Khalid had so far performed the last rites of several hundreds of bodies, including several from Ranchi.

“In 2010, I performed the last rites of 150 bodies lying at RIMS mortuary. Again, 100 bodies were cremated in 2011, 90 in 2012 and 93 in 2013. But in all these cases, I had to arrange everything from wood and kerosene to vehicles to ferry the bodies to Jumar river. This leads to wastage of time, as arranging wood is a tough task nowadays. The electric crematorium in Harmu, if handed over to us, will take care of all these problems,” he added.

The social worker is also eager to look after its proper upkeep. “Due to lack of maintenance, the machines at the crematorium are gathering dust and have developed snags. If the administration agrees to hand it over to me, I will take care of the maintenance part as well,” Khalid added.

The task will be nothing less than a challenge as a joint technical team of Alltech Enterprises from Allahabad and experts from Ranchi Municipal Corporation, which had visited the crematorium last year, had raised questions regarding the basic design of the furnace.

In the report that the team submitted to the civic guardians last December, experts argued that the technology used was outdated. They also raised at least 12 technical points to show that the crematorium does not follow Central Pollution Control Board guidelines.

When contacted, deputy commissioner of Ranchi Vinay Choubey said they had been looking for an NGO to run the crematorium since long.

“Earlier, we had tried to rope in an external agency to run the crematorium, but no one showed interest. If Mohammad Khalid had sent any such proposal, we are more than willing to welcome it and will send it to RMC for further action,” he added.

The crematorium, which was built at a total cost of Rs 3 crore, became functional in 2008. However, only 11 bodies have been created there in the past six years.