The National Green Tribunal Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking direction to install alternative methods of cremation to reduce air pollution and also to contain spread of COVID-19.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel junked the plea which sought conversion of at least one third of the number of pyres at all cremation grounds in the capital to alternative modes of cremation in a stipulated period of time.
“We do not find the issue raised to be a substantial question of environment to be gone into under Section 14 and 15 of the National Green Tribunal, Act, 2010,” the bench said.
It said however that the order will not debar the applicant from raising the issue before appropriate authorities who may consider the matter as per viability.
The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Delhi resident Parmod Kumar Bhatia and others seeking alternative methods of cremation to reduce air pollution.
The plea, filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary, said there are several reports published over the years which show that wood based cremation contributes significantly towards the air pollution.
“A study titled ‘Contribution of wood based crematoria in Carbon dioxide emission and their clean alternatives’ based on a study of 9 sites for a year found that the total wood consumed from sites was 11,593 tonnes per year and the amount of CO2 released was equal to 20,422 tonnes,” the plea said.
Referring to another study conducted by IIT Kanpur titled ‘Comprehensive Study on Green House Gases (GHGs) in Delhi’, the plea said that it looked at 53 cremation sites in Delhi and found that wood required per body for cremation is 216 kg and the emission estimation for 2014 was calculated as 41,252 tonnes of Carbon dioxide.
The petition said that importance of alternative modes of cremation are more important in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As per the ‘Standard Guidelines For Medico-Legal Autopsy In COVID-19 Deaths In India’ released by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), it is recommended that “the body must be cremated in an electric crematorium, wherever possible, so that the movement and handling of the body are minimized.”
As an electric crematorium is closed, it is therefore considered the safest method of carrying out cremation of COVID-19 patients, the plea said.