Aurangabad, April 7: Eight bodies of COVID-19 victims were cremated on a single pyre due to shortage of space at a makeshift crematorium in Maharashtra's Beed district, a civic official said on Wednesday.
Since residents had opposed the cremation of bodies of COVID-19 patients at crematoriums in Ambajogai town, local authorities had to find another another place away from the area to perform the victims' last rites; the space there was limited, he said.
"As residents objected to the cremation of COVID-19 victims in the crematoriums which we currently have, we identified a separate space on Mandwa road, nearly two kms away from the town," Ambajogai Municipal Council's chief officer Ashok Sabale told PTI.
The new makeshift facility had limited space, he said.
"As a result, we had to set up one large pyre and cremate eight bodies on Tuesday. The pyre was big and the bodies were kept at a certain distance from each other," the official added.
Sabale mentioned that with COVID-19 on the rise again there was a likelihood of more deaths due to the pandemic in the coming days. He said they were planning to expand the makeshift facility and make it waterproof before the monsoons hit the coastal state.
On Tuesday, 716 new COVID-19 cases or coronavirus were reported in Beed district, raising its tally to 28,491.
The district has so far recorded 672 deaths due to thedisease, as per official data.
Maharashtra has been hit the hardest at a time when COVID-19 has found a second wind in India with the country reporting over 1.15 lakh cases for the first time since the pandemic struck last year. The state currently has over 4.7 lakh active COVID-19 cases.
The state came across its first case on March 10, 2020. It took six months for that number to go past the ten lakh mark, with the next ten lakh added over a period of four months. In just three months since January this year ten lakh more patients were added to the state's tally.
Health experts have attributed the rising numbers to multiple reasons, including international and domestic. Dr. Gautam Bhansali, a practicing doctor at Bombay Hospital and also part of state government's task force, had told Newsclick: "Self-Lockdown is the only way ahead. We can't blame the government for people going out to the beaches and everywhere else. The government not asking them to do so. People have to restrict their activities to fight the coronavirus. Self lockdown is must," he said.
Many inoculation centres in Maharashtra were being shut due to the shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine, the state's Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Wednesday, adding Maharashtra had 14 lakh doses which would last just another three days.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had warned of a lockdown if the situation does not come under control soon.
An official statement on Tuesday said Maharashtra had received 1.06 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, out of which 88 lakh doses have been used while the wastage stood at three per cent. It said the state government will vigorously pursue its demand for more stock of vaccine doses, considering the rapid rise in the COVID-19 cases and expansion of the vaccination drive.
Thackeray on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow people above the age of 25 years to receive COVID-19 shots, which he said would protect younger people from the rapid spread of the viral infection at a time when they are stepping outside their homes to earn a livelihood.
In a letter to the PM, Thackeray also demanded that Maharashtra be provided 1.5 crore additional doses of vaccines, which will enable the state government to complete within three weeks the vaccination of beneficiaries above 45 years of age in six districts, including Mumbai.
On Tuesday the Indian Medical Association also wrote to the PM, asking for COVID-19 vaccination for all adults and that access to public places be limited to those with vaccination certificates. "As there is acute spurt of this disease as a measure to immediate break the chain, limited period continuous lockdown shall be implemented especially for all the non-essential areas like cinema, cultural and religious events, sports, etc," the letter reportedly said.
However, the health ministry has said this was not possible. In a press conference on Tuesday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan was quoted saying that the "aim is not to administer the vaccine to those who want it but to those who need it."
With PTI Inputs