| March 21, 2018

Disposal of unclaimed bodies proving headache for govt

Disposal of unclaimed bodies proving headache for govt
KATHMANDU, July 8: More than two months after the devastating earthquake, the government has still not been able to dispose of unclaimed bodies of those who had died in the disaster.

The proper management of dead bodies is a key element of disaster response, yet the District Dead Bodies Management Committee, which is under the Home Ministry, is yet to find a site to dispose of the bodies.

Fourteen unidentified dead bodies and over 30 body parts were recovered from various parts of the country and have been kept at the mortuary of Tribuvan University Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj.
District Dead Bodies Management Committee had proposed three sites--Thapathali, Kirtipur and Shivapuri National Park.

But locals of Thapathali, Kirtipur and the warden of Shivapuri National Park strongly opposed the move, forcing the authorities to look for other places.

"We are working to find some other sites as the hospital authorities have been frequently requesting us to vacate the mortuary space at the hospital," Senior Superintendent of Police, Uttam Karki, the coordinator of the committee said.

Under international practice, the dead bodies should be disposed of in a manner that is dignified, culturally appropriate and also based on good public health practices, he said adding.

According to Dead Bodies Management Directive, 2068, the graveyards must be at least 500 meters away from human settlements, and 200 meters away from groundwater or drinking water sources.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also suggests that the cremation of unidentified bodies should not ignore possibilities of health hazards.

SP Prakash Adhikari of Metropolitan Police Crime Division, who is also a member of the committee, said that they have completed the necessary procedures of collecting samples from dead bodies.

"The samples will help determine the identity of the dead if someone comes looking for them in future. So we have kept all the unclaimed bodies in bags for burial and waiting for the government to identify the site," he said.

The bodies will be buried with all the details so that they could be excavated in future if their relatives come looking for them.

The committee is currently relieved after ICRC provided a mortuary but those bodies could not be hold for longer as the hospital receives more than three unidentified dead bodies each day.