In the aftermath of the Delhi High Court taking cognizance in September of the grim conditions in the mortuaries in the capital and flaying them, some of the mortuaries seem to have started acting.
In the Sabzi Mandi Mortuary, one of the oldest in Delhi, the dilapidated building is being renovated, however, the post-mortem room is still dirty. Two bodies were lying unattended in the dimly-lit and foul smelling post-mortem room with the doors ajar and the air-conditioning system barely working. Blood-stained and rusted stretchers are used to move bodies.
A staff at the Sabzi Mandi Mortuary told this paper, “We are exposed to high level of infections; nothing is being done about that. We do not have any risk cover and many of the workers here die much before their retirement age,” he said.
Asked about the overcrowding in the storage area, he said: “Though this mortuary covers a very large area, but with the winter setting in, overcrowding remains a problem.”
He also said that instruments used for post mortem have not yet been replaced and rusted, old tools are used. Senior officials attached to the mortuary refused to comment, saying there has been a “gag order” on them by the Delhi government. Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, under which the mortuary falls, also refused to comment, saying “the matter is sub-judice”.
The situation looked slightly better at another mortuary attached to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) near the Delhi Gate. With a capacity to house 25 bodies, its premises were relatively clean, with a functional waiting room. At around 4:30 pm, a Delhi Wakf Board hearse van arrived to take three unidentified bodies lying there for over 10 days, clearly flouting the provisions of the CrPC.
An official at the mortuary said: “Things here are much better mainly because students from the Maulana Azad Medical College come here for classes. However, we are highly susceptible to infections mostly because people do not maintain proper hygiene.”