Bengaluru: Amid reports of bodies of suspected COVID victims floating in the Ganga, the Karnataka government on Thursday announced putting in place a system to ensure that the final rites are performed free of cost.
“We have been seeing news about bodies floating in the Ganga river but in our state we have ensured that no such incidents happen. Bodies should be cremated with honour and no one should face hardship (of extortion and bribe for final rites),” Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka told reporters.
He said Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had directed him to ensure that bodies of COVID patients are treated with honour and cremated.
“We had come across reports that a lot of extortion was happening by ambulance drivers and private vehicles who were demanding up to Rs 16,000. Keeping this in mind, we have set up a helpline (Phone number– 8495998495) which became operational from yesterday (Wednesday),” the Minister said.
He said there will be 19 people in the helpline facility who will work round-the-clock.
Soon after calling the number, people will get all the aid without spending anything right from the ambulance to the cremation, Ashoka told reporters.
“There will be no room for any extortion. We have plugged all the loopholes where the family members of the deceased were facing hardship and paved the way for a respectful final journey,” the Minister claimed.
He said a check of private medical colleges, private nursing homes and hospitals was done to see whether the government quota of hospital beds were utilised properly.
It led to the discovery that many hospitals gave wrong information about the total beds and oxygenated beds, he said.
“We got an extra 2,216 beds this week for people.
This will help more patients to get medical aid in the hospitals,” Ashoka said.
The Karnataka government has reserved 80 per cent of beds in private hospitals and nursing homes for COVID patients in view of rising infections in the state, especially in Bengaluru.
The hospitals will have to admit the patients under government quota.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, after receiving complaints about several bodies found floating in the Ganga river in the two states.
It said it received a complaint dated May 11, 2021, based on several media reports, wherein apprehensions were expressed that these bodies floating in the Ganga were of COVID-19 victims.