Hazaribagh sadar hospital will get its own mortuary by the first week of March and also a post-mortem house on campus that will lessen to an extent the burden on overworked doctors who continue to perform autopsies on bodies sent from neighbouring Ramgarh.
Thanks to initiatives of deputy commissioner Manish Ranjan, a building that has been lying unutilised as the isolation ward for years will house both units.
At present, a post-mortem house is situated close to the Loknayak Jai Prakash Narayan Central Jail in Kolghatti, about 1.5km from sadar hospital.
On the other hand, social worker Mohammad Khalid has been bringing in unclaimed dead bodies to a small room in the hospital that was allotted to him last June.
With a population of 17.40 lakh, the lack of a mortuary in Hazaribagh is only part of a problem, as it receives around 15 bodies for autopsies per month from Ramgarh for the want of a facility in the neighbouring district.
However, the Hazaribagh district administration sanctioned Rs 1.27 lakh to give a facelift to the abandoned isolation ward in sadar hospital, following which renovation work began in the last week of January.
Sources said the new ward would be split into two parts to serve as mortuary and post-mortem house. Both units will get two rooms each.
Police send bodies for post-mortem to the hospital to get all official procedures done before sending them to the post-mortem house in Kolghatti, in all a time-consuming affair.
Khalid, who runs Murda Kalyan Samiti and is recognised as a good Samaritan who performs the last rites of hundreds of unclaimed corpses, said the mortuary was a must in view of the rise in fatal mishaps.
He admitted to facing problems in preserving dead bodies in the absence of a mortuary. A report in The Telegraph on June 2 last year that highlighted his problems prompted him to meet the deputy commissioner, Khalid said.
"I requested Manish Ranjan to free up the isolation ward building and told him about a decision of the hospital management committee in this regard. He then took an initiative," he added.
Khalid said one room would be air-conditioned and used to keep the bodies for the first three days.
"After three days, we will shift the corpses to the second room that will have boxes filled with formalin to preserve the bodies. We will preserve the bodies for 90 days and then perform the last rites. The mortuary will have a capacity to store 15 bodies," he added.
The activist pointed out that he receives eight to 10 unclaimed bodies per month and that the "mortuary will ease my work".
"At the post-mortem house, one room will be used for carrying out autopsies and the other for preserving viscera," he added.