People claim they are asking for £ 15,000 to £ 20,000 to perform final rites against the official rate of £ 3,000
With the increase in COVID-19 deaths in the city, private ambulance workers and middlemen are benefiting from the situation. The middlemen reportedly billed £ 15,000 to £ 20,000 to perform the final rites on a person who died of the coronavirus. Family members of the deceased claim that the ambulance staff and workers work at the Gnanapuram crematorium in Cahoots.
“I lost my maternal uncle a few days ago in a private hospital in Arilova. We approached an ambulance driver to take the body to a crematorium. He seems to have a connection with the hospital and the workers in the crematorium. He’s offered a £ 20,000 package for everything from moving the body to performing rites. When we negotiated, he agreed to do so for £ 18,000. He didn’t even offer a PPE kit, ”said BJ Venkata Mahesh, a resident of the Murali Nagar area.
Relatives of COVID-19 patients claim that even if they are given an ambulance driver, they will be billed around £ 8,000-10,000 in the crematorium. People claim that middlemen are inappropriately exploiting the heavy onslaught of the crematorium. Every day during the second wave, at least 60 to 70 bodies are brought to Gnanapuram. They claimed workers cited the wood and diesel shortages to perform the final rites. A large number of people reportedly paid the amount requested by middlemen to avoid disputes during the final rites. People are looking for an array of surveillance cameras on the crematorium grounds to check on the misconduct.
According to a senior official from the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), the company has set a price of £ 3,000 for all procedures, including labor, wood, diesel and others, in the crematorium and has set up flexis in the premises to inform people about it. “We have also set up a toll-free number 180042500009 so that people can file complaints when excessive fees are charged,” the official said.
KSLG Sastry, Chief Medical and Officer of Health (CMOH) of the GVMC, said the citizen body will assign a crematorium in each zone to perform the final rites of the COVID victims in order to relieve pressure on Gnanapuram crematorium. “It is the middlemen who take advantage of the situation and are involved in corruption. To create awareness, we have set up blackboards in the crematorium. The citizenship will take steps to put an end to this corruption, ”said Sastry.
He said sodium hypochlorite solution will be sprayed on the premises and all COVID-19 precautions will be followed.
GVMC officials are also preparing to restart the electric crematorium in Chavulamadum, and the trial run began on Monday.