KOLKATA, 15 JULY: Students of the Kolkata Municipal Primary School at Neel Madhab Sen Lane are forced to spend their days amidst the stench of bodies emanating from the Kolkata Police Morgue just opposite the school building (in SNS photo).
Not only the stench, but the sight of the misshapen dead bodies brought to the morgue haunts the children for days. They have no other option than to use the lane (near Mohammed Ali Park) to walk to school and come back.
“Our children witness such horrid scenes everyday and complain after coming home. We have become used to the stench, but it is very uncomfortable when our relatives come to visit us,” said a resident of the area whose daughters study in the primary school.
Ms Rehana Khatoon, councillor of the area, said that the residents have been suffering because of this for a long time. They had organised a camp and signature campaign in November last year. “We had submitted a mass petition to the state health minister to shift the morgue away from the residential area but nothing has been done so far,” she said.
Another resident of the area said that he, along with others, had met Jyoti Basu in 1998 and had urged him to shift the morgue and to use the building for some other purpose. They also met the erstwhile police commissioner and the officials of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. All of them said that the morgue could not be shifted as it is close to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, making it convenient for shifting bodies. However, Jyoti Basu had made arrangements for ACs to be installed at the morgue to prevent a stench. “But there is no maintenance in these places and the stench has become a part of our life now,” said Md Israel Ahmad, who has been living in the area for the past 40 years.
Another resident said: “The unclaimed bodies are not shifted on time and rot here. We have to suffer because of this.” The bodies of the Jnaneswari train accident victims were brought here as the curious children looked on. “We cannot cover their eyes,” he added. The residents also said that they have often agitated and have even stopped officials and staff from taking the bodies inside the morgue or taking them out but to no avail.
The staff at the morgue denied any such incident. They said that the morgue was established at the time of the British rule when the area was not so thickly populated. “The people have learnt to adjust. If they complain, we wash the area with phenyl. It is as normal as neighbours fighting over garbage,” he said. Mr Atin Ghosh, MMIC, Health, said: “I have just joined and have not heard of any problem in that area. But if there is any such issue, we will take steps to ensure that the people don’t suffer.”