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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wanted: One electric crematorium

Today I can say I am annoyed, which is, I can tell you, a rare phenomenon. It takes a lot to annoy me. They say the life of an average person is three score and ten years meaning 70 and though I have not quite reached three score, at 55 I am chugging well past the half-way mark.

When one is pragmatic one has to plan. And I had planned for the disposal of my earthly remains through cremation and the sprinkling of my ashes in the River Mandovi. Read that as my last desperate attempt to travel far and wide, without fear of crashes, terrorists or bankruptcy.

The only tripwire in this whole plan is that there is no electric crematorium in Panjim, or Goa for that matter. Given the problems with finding burial space, for the end result of road accidents, suicides, murders, gang wars and acts of God, surely the time has come for a proper crematorium in Goa. In the good ol’ days people hardly ever died; they just lived on and on until they died I suspect of boredom. In the here and now, it is different. You step out of your house and you never know whether you will step back in or be carried in on strong men’s shoulders.

It could be anything – bad driving, bad construction, bad people, bad diseases, bad doctors. The thing is, a crematorium in today’s Goa would do brisk business. Yet what does the GMC do? Decides more doctors are needed. As if we don’t have more than enough of our fair share of quacks. Those who are more interested in the size of your income, than that of your infection?

No. The GMC decided Goa needs more doctors, so they asked permission of the Centre to expand their number of students from 100 to 150. The 50 extra would be local Goans. The Centre said fine, we’ll send team in December to check if you have the required infrastructure for 150 medical students. One hears GMC immediately panicked and said, hey, hey, no need to send a team this December, send it in December 2010. We’ll set everything up and open admissions for 50 more locals in 2011.

That is all well and good. But I learned that at the same time GMC was involved in new correspondence.

The morgue which holds 60 bodies is just not enough for the large numbers of people snuffing out on and off the roads of Goa. One hears they are going to spend Rs 12 crore and build a state-of-the-art mortuary which will hold 90 bodies.

So why am I annoyed? Am I annoyed because GMC is swinging into action to accommodate dead bodies but puts on hold a chance to save some deaths and train 50 new live doctors? Am I annoyed because they cannot build infrastructure for the living but can fritter away so much for the dead? Am I annoyed because in terms of cost-benefit, it makes more business sense to focus on the dead, because of the unending supply and quick turnover, rather than spend tax payers’ money on medical students who will then proceed to fleece their patients and not issue bills for payments received?

No I am annoyed because it would make more sense to set up an electric crematorium near the morgue. Body comes in, body waits until forensics and cops are through with it and family collects. If no family comes forward, the crematorium is right there. Would it not be far simpler to just dispose of the bodies in an electric crematorium? Of course, one that I too could use in the fullness of time?

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