Visakhapatnam: Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) has set up an eco-friendly electric crematorium to cremate COVID-19 victims in the city.

GVMC officials said the city has over 50 Hindu cremation grounds at different locations. The main cremation ground is located in the Gnanapuram area. In the absence of an electrical crematorium facility, the bodies are mostly being cremated in the open involving firewood.

Gnanapuram crematorium in Vizag city has been witnessing a rush in the last one week due to the spike in COVID-19 deaths. On average, Gnanapuram cremation ground receives 15 bodies in a day.

The staff at the crematorium said at least 300 kgs of dry wood is required to cremate one body. It takes over 90 to 120 minutes for the body to reduce into ashes. If the inflow of the bodies continues, there will be a shortage of firewood. Exploiting the situation, some people charge around Rs30,000 for the cremation of a body.

GVMC Commissioner G Srijana said they have set up an electrical crematorium facility at a cost of Rs 60 lakh at the Gnanapuram and it will be operational in a couple of days.

She said the cremation charges are fixed at Rs.3000 at GVMC burial grounds. For orphans and people who can't afford it, the cremation process will be free of charge. "Citizens can complain to our toll-free number 1800 4250 0009 on any violations," she said

GVMC officials said once electrical crematorium is operational; at least 15 bodies can be cremated in a day. Cremating bodies electrically is much easier. It is economical, less time-consuming, simple, and above all pollution-free.

The state government has decided to allow only 20 persons to attend the funeral rites.

GVMC officials said that the electric crematorium was launched around two decades ago in Vizag city. The maintenance of the electric crematorium was then handed over to a private agency. However, with the passage of time, it became redundant due to religious sentiments associated with the cremation.

With the increasing deaths and waiting for hours for the cremation, electrical crematorium once again gained importance.

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