On Sunday night, more than 100 unidentified bodies of decomposed human remains were burned in a pile at the Sibpur crematorium.
After being held in Howrah’s police morgue for at most three months, they were burned. This was in violation of environmental norms as well as a Calcutta High Court directive. Subhas Datta, an environmentalist, alleged that the unclaimed bodies were not cremated in the last few months. Subhas Datta presented the allegations Monday to Mukta Ariana, a district magistrate of Howrah and the chief medical officers of health (CMOH), from Howrah.
Datta claimed that the refrigeration/cooling system of the morgue was out of gear for several months and alleged that the bodies were burnt in an unhygienic manner. Open burning of so many bodies that are not fully decomposed is a violation to an environmental act.
Biswajit Mokherjee, a retired chief lawyer of the state pollution control Board, said that openly burning bodies wrapped with plastic was a violation Section 7, Environment Protection Act 1986. This is because it is deemed toxic to the critical level of suspended air pollutants and toxic dioxins. He stated that it was also a violation CrPC 133 which concerns public nuisance.
An electric crematorium is preferable in urban areas, according to a senior official from the environment department.
In 1997, Calcutta High Court ruled in Datta’s favor. It ordered all state morgues to install refrigeration systems, and to dispose of unclaimed bodies at least once a month.
We had written to Howrah Municipal Corporation several times. Nitai Chaudra Mandal, CMOH Howrah on Monday evening, stated that finally some bodies were cremated yesterday.
He claimed that the refrigeration system was functional, but admitted that the morgue could not hold enough bodies.
I have heard that over 100 bodies were burned in an unhonest manner. Sujay Chakraborty is the current administrator of the civic body. He said that they are looking into ways to make such an exercise more civilized in the future.