Uttar Pradesh government has undertaken an ambitious project to upgrade and modernize its autopsy centers, most of which lack basic facilities.
Uttar Pradesh has 75 districts but autopsy centers are in only 65 as the other 10 are newly-created and share facilities with the districts they were carved out of. At present, the bodies of all those who die unnatural deaths are dumped in these centers and a senior official said this situation needed to be rectified.
The autopsy centers "need immediate and humane intervention. It has been decided that post-mortem houses will be upgraded and modernized and new ones will be constructed where the existing structures are weak and dilapidated," Home Secretary Kamal Saxena told IANS.
In 2009, over 42,000 post-mortems were conducted in the state. In 2010, the figure was 45,000.
The government has already released Rs.47.84 lakh while another Rs.1.2 crore has been earmarked to be spent on autopsy centers. Orders have been issued to make proper arrangements for conducting autopsies, standardization of equipment and purchase of freezers.
With almost 80 percent of autopsy houses lacking seating arrangements for the deceased's family members, the home department has asked for the erection of special shades to keep the families out of the rain and sun.
The entire post-mortem procedure has also been revised to include a new format of medical examination performa, on-spot inspection form and DNA sample collection form.
Officials say this has been necessitated for the "fast changing modus operandi of criminals and the host of new crimes".
The Urban Development and Housing Department has been asked to earmark land in districts which do not have autopsy centers by Sept 30. Special parking lots will be created to accommodate hearses and vehicles of the bereaved families, an official said.
Orders have also been issued to ensure adequate power and water at these centers.
The home department has also begun an "extensive and exhaustive" exercise to provide funding for equipment like generators, inverters, ice-equipments, refrigeration and embalmment.
Approach roads to the post-mortem centers will also be built. The new centers will be 40 to 50 feet away from the main roads.
Work on refurbishing post-mortem centers in Auraiya, Pratapgarh, Kannauj, Farrukhabad, Rampur and 10 other districts would be completed by December 2012. Work will begin soon on new centers in Kanpur, Mainpuri and 18 other districts.
The government is also willing to help in establishing, on need-based requests, autopsy centers at government and private medical colleges, an official said.