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Ghazipur man launches firewood bank to help cremate bodies


Lucknow: Sanjay Rai (50), a native of Sherpur village in Ghazipur district, has launched a ‘firewood bank’ near the cremation grounds located on the bank of river Ganga to assist the poor people in the last rites of their near and dear ones.

Rai, who runs a business in Kutch area of Gujarat, was in his village when he came to know that villagers were dumping bodies of suspected Covid -19 patients in the Ganga as they were unable to perform the last rites due to poverty.

The issue was highlighted by the media. Photographs of bodies floating in the river were carried in both print and electronic media and environmentalists expressed concern over increase in Ganga pollution. “People from various parts of the country called me to know the facts. The dumping of bodies as well as floating corpses in the river seemed disgraceful,” Rai said.

“I discussed with my associates and family members how to assist the poor people in cremating the bodies. We decided to launch a firewood bank on the nine ghats located near the river. We informed the district administration about the plan and after getting the nod we transported firewood from various parts of the districts, procured from the timber merchants. On May 14 the firewood bank was launched near the nine cremation grounds,” he said.

The poor people visiting the ghats for cremation got wood free from the bank and volunteers were working round the clock, distributing the firewood and maintaining the stock at all the ghats. “Along with assisting the needy, we are also working to protect the Ganga from pollution, Rai said.

An official said the district administration had launched an awareness campaign in the villages located near the Ganga, urging the people to not dump the bodies in the river. The flood company of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) was regularly patrolling the river to check dumping of bodies. The administration had told the newly elected gram pradhans that if the villager has no money to perform the last rites of dead family member, the administration would assist them.

The initiative of Sanjay Rai had helped the administration in reaching the rural masses and assisting them in cremation, he said.

Rai has also launched Youth Rural Entrepreneur Foundation in his village to enlighten the farmers about new agriculture technology and marketing of products.

“We are also assisting the youths in education, skill development and entrepreneurship,” Rai said.


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