One of the holiest Hindu towns in India, Haridwar has
started adopting eco-friendly measures for cremation of the dead. Traditional
pyre is getting replaced by a low smoke generating and wood consuming cremation
system. The new system will help in saving hundred of tress annually. 

The cremation ground at Khadkadi receives dead bodies for
performing last rites from many parts of North India. The Sewa Simiti, a
registered society which came into being way back in 1919, proves cremation
facilities at Khadkadi.

Performing the last rites on Ganga river bank is a thing of
the past as the Sewa Simiti has created concrete platforms near the holy
river. 

The process of creating shed at these platforms are going
on. The modern cremation shed is fixed with chimneys and cast-iron platform
that improves combustion, resulting in low wood use.

Sewa Simiti’s secretary Sardar Ajeet Singh says, “One
wood-incinerator is operational. Besides this the work of two cremation shed
has completed and construction work is going on three others such sheds.”

The Khadkadi cremation ground will be creating about a dozen
sheds by next year. In the traditional cremation system 400-500 kg of wood is
required for performing last rite of a body. On the other hand the same ritual
can be completed in the cremation shed with 200-250 kg wood.  

The Khadkadi cremation ground receives about two dozen dead
bodies daily. Hari Ram Kumar, coordinator of Sewa Simiti says, “By using the
new system we will be able to save one tree in every three cremation performed
here. The cremation gets completed in about two hours, compared to 3-4 hours
taken in the old system.”

Cast-iron platform, that can resist high heat and corrosion,
improves combustion. The chimney emits the smoke about 25 feet high. Now, the
dead bodies are no taken for bath in Ganga, the Sewa  Simiti has created a
modern tub that sprinkles water. The water used in bath is treated and used for
irrigation.

The new cremation system is not only environment friendly
but also economical also- as by use of less work the cremation can be performed
at low cost. The Sewa Simiti provides 100 kg of wood for Rs 490. 

According to Sociologist Devendra Kumar Budakoti,  “The
electric crematorium would be the best solution towards eco-friendly cremation but
that has not been favoured  by the majority of Hindus as cremation is a
ritualistic process involving various steps, particularly the ‘Kapal Kriya’
 which cannot be cannot be performed once the body is placed inside the
electric system.”

Raju Gusain/ SNS