A broken signpost at the defunct electric crematorium at Harmu, Ranchi, on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The pain of losing a loved one is always acute. But, for residents of the capital who have to cremate the dead in monsoon, the trip to the burning ghat can be excruciating with soggy wood prolonging the process of cremation as the sole electric crematorium in Harmu is defunct since 2010.
As monsoon picked up momentum the past week, problems faced by bereaved kin in burning bodies the traditional way gained urgency.
As Prakash Sharma, a resident of Kanke Road who went to cremate a neighbour on Saturday said: “We really felt the need for the revival of the electric crematorium. As wood was wet and sustained combustion was proving difficult, we had to wait for eight hours. To add to our emotional distress was this feeling that the departed soul was in agony.”
Sharma had gone to Muktidham, the traditional burning ghat in Harmu. The defunct electric crematorium stands a few metres apart.
The sole electric crematorium in Ranchi, the facility came up in the year 2007 at a cost of Rs 3 crore and was inaugurated in 2008.
However, as most things are in the capital, it could not burn a dozen bodies properly.
A Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) employee said: “Bahut mushkil se gyarah body jalaya gaya hoga. Jo barhwan tha, usko aadhe mein utaarna pada. Saal 2010 se jo kharab pada hai, tab se ab tak koi udhar dhyan hi nahin deta (Only 11 bodies could be cremated. The 12th one had to be removed halfway. The electric crematorium has been lying defunct since 2010).”
Philanthropist Ganesh Reddy, who runs the non-profit organisation Citizen Foundation in Ranchi and extends free cremation services, said: “A year ago, we were asked by the RMC whether we would like to run the electric crematorium as well. Before taking the onus, we requested Alltech Enterprises, an Allahabad-based agency, to inspect it. In its report to the RMC last November, Alltech stated the machinery needed to be replaced.”
Asked, deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijaywargiya said Alltech placed the cost of repair at a prohibitively high Rs 1 crore.
“Moreover, huge electric bills are pending,” he said. “I know the electric crematorium is the need of the hour but the RMC cannot think of it unless these issues are settled.”
On the way forward, the deputy mayor said: “A Chandigarh-based agency has been contacted for an estimate for a new electric facility.”
Stressing on the need for an electric crematorium for Ranchi, Reddy said: “It is the most environment-friendly way to cremate the dead. Around 320kg wood is required to cremate a body. During monsoon, it increases. An electric crematorium is a social need.”