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HomeIndiaGovernanceHaryana’s crematoria need more wood, so govt allows forest dept to continue...

Haryana’s crematoria need more wood, so govt allows forest dept to continue tree-felling

Haryana govt has put tree-felling in a list of activities permitted during the lockdown imposed to slow down the surging Covid-19 wave, which has been extended till 17 May.

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Chandigarh: As the demand for wood at crematoria across municipalities and districts rises due to the Covid-19 wave in India, the Haryana government has taken an unprecedented decision to allow the forest department to continue tree-felling amid the statewide lockdown.

The latest orders issued by Haryana Chief Secretary Vijay Vardhan Sunday evening, added tree-felling to the activities that state government departments and autonomous bodies have been allowed to carry out under the lockdown.

“Tree felling operations of the forest department and Haryana Forest Development Corporation (HFDC) shall remain operational, subject to the condition that they will be allowed only to the extent required for meeting the fuel wood requirements of the municipal corporations and district administrations,” the order stated.

Haryana has been under lockdown since 2 May due to the spiking number of Covid-19 cases. It has now extended the lockdown till 17 May.

Also read: Eyewitness to mass grief: A chilling account in words, and photos, of a young photojournalist

Why it’s a significant decision

The state forest department, through the HFDC, provides fuel wood for cremation grounds to municipal corporations and committees. Sources in the forest department told ThePrint Monday that there has been a sudden increase in demand for fuel wood in almost all the urban local bodies in the state, and additional demands are being raised.

There has also been an increase in the demand in some rural areas as well, the sources said.

On 30 April, the department of urban local bodies raised an additional demand of 20,000 tonnes of wood to the forest department, to be distributed among 90 municipal corporations and committees. “The demand seemed to be a little too much, but we have approved the distribution of 20,000 quintals of additional fuel wood to these municipal bodies,” said a senior forest department officer. However, 20,000 quintals is just one-tenth of the demand of 20,000 tonnes.

“Usually, villages are self-sufficient in providing fuel wood for cremation grounds. Apart from dead wood from trees, villagers also use cow dung cakes to cremate bodies. However, the demand for fuel wood has now come in from villages as well. This demand has been routed to us through the block development officers,” said the officer.

Haryana’s Covid woes

On 1 April, the number of single-day Covid-positive cases registered in Haryana was a little over 1,600, while the number of deaths was nine. By 15 April, the single-day figure read 6,000 and deaths rose to 18.

On 30 April, Haryana recorded almost 14,000 cases and 98 deaths. A week later, on 7 May, the daily cases figure once again came in at around 14,000, but the deaths had gone up to 162. On 9 May, Sunday, the number of fresh cases stood at 13,500 and deaths numbered 141.

However, several reports claim that many Covid cases and deaths remain uncounted, and that the number of bodies being cremated under Covid protocols at cremation grounds across the state is much higher than the death figure released by the state government every evening. In Rohtak district, cremation grounds ran out of space last week.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)

Also read: ‘Houseful’ sign at Bengaluru crematorium as it runs out of space to cremate or even keep bodies


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