With Covid-19, issues over cremation facilities emerge in many parts of Goa |

By: Albert Fernandes & Pritam Chodankar
POINGUINIM/BICHOLIM: Last month, when Canacona resident Suresh Desai (name changed) lost his father to Covid, he had another pressing worry to deal with – whether his father would get a decent cremation.
The pandemic has often resulted in days when there are multiple deaths in a single municipal or panchayat ward. During the second wave, this led to issues related to crematorium facilities arising in different parts of the state.
In Canacona’s municipal area, difficulties arise when two to three deaths are seen in a single day. Though there are two crematoriums in the area, both are badly maintained. For the lack of proper documentation over ownership of the land the crematoriums could not be renovated for decades now.
“The municipality and councillors should sit across the table and settle the issue. After the formalities are completed and proper documentation is done, I have taken the responsibility of getting government funds to carry out renovations,” said deputy speaker and Canacona MLA Isidore Fernandes.
Meanwhile, locals continue to struggle to carry out cremations in the dilapidated structures.
During the second wave, local panchayats in some interior parts of Bicholim taluka faced a different challenge, that of getting some villagers to give up the practice of carrying out last rites on their own properties so as to enable hygienic cremations at the official crematorium. In Sarvan, Bicholim, villagers said some locals still perform final rites on their own property, as was done traditionally. “Some people are used to the old tradition even though there is a public crematorium now,” said a Sarvan resident, Tukaram Sawant.
Over the last one year, about 10 people, including three who died due to Covid, have been cremated at the public crematorium. Yet, some locals said that when a single public crematorium was constructed and arrangements were made to cremate up to four persons at a time, three of the platforms were earmarked for three different communities, while only one was kept for general use by those who settled later in the village.
Locals said this sort of segregation should be done away.
In Shristhal panchayat, a dispute over cremation of a person who died due to Covid reached the deputy collector’s office, who had to give directives clarifying that no person can be denied cremation in a crematorium constructed or renovated using government funds. Despite the orders, the body had to be transported to the Poinguinim crematorium for final rites.

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