No space for dead, cops dump bodies at Goa Medical College morgue

PANAJI: The Goa Medical College’s () 108-cabinet mortuary and mass casualty facility with a capacity to hold 35 bodies is almost full, except for 12 cabinets which were unoccupied as of Saturday evening. As many as 97 bodies in the Bambolim hospital belong to various stations.

All three sections of the — A, B and C — are occupied by bodies that came from various police stations for postmortem a few months ago. Bodies of three foreigners — German, Russian and Nigerian — are also among those lying at the morgue for over two years.

If there is no relief, morgue authorities fear that in a few days, they will have to turn away people who come to GMC to preserve bodies.

The department of forensic medicine and toxicology’s in-charge, Dr Andre Fernandes, confirmed that there are currently few empty cabinets in the morgue. However, he refused to comment on other aspects of the morgue.

Bodies brought by the police are even occupying some cabinets in Section A, a source said.

Asked about the piling up of bodies at the morgue, health minister Vishwajit said that he would call a joint meeting of police and district collectors to sort out the issue. “There were clear instructions from chief minister a while ago for speedy disposal of bodies and a fund provision was also made. The problem is arising due to delays by authorities in disposing police bodies,” he told STOI.

The biggest worry, however, for morgue authorities, is a repeat of the Januz Gonsalves episode, as police bodies are now being kept in all three sections of morgue.

Autopsies conducted at old morgue

In September, GMC faced ignominy over a body goof after the body of 26-year-old Gonsalves was handed over to city corporation staff instead of one Vishant Naik’s body, which was in the morgue for three years. Naik’s body is still at the morgue. “It stayed here for three years, we don’t know how long it will remain here,” a source said.

Ideally, police are required to take away bodies within 15 days after the postmortem, but they leave them at the morgue for months.

The mass casualty facility has to be sparingly used, but it is regularly occupied by bodies brought in by the police. “There are 20 police bodies lying at the mass casualty facility,” the source said.

“The GMC has also been using the facility for a while. With bodies at the facility, it has not been possible to shut it down for regular maintenance since the last six months,” another source said. If air-conditioning fails in any section at the morgue, there will be no place to shift the bodies, the source said.

The morgue has repeatedly faced cooling issues. The facility was put into use only two years after it was commissioned.

“The body goof happened because the staff was forced to shift bodies due to breakdown of cabinets. Now that bodies are being placed in all sections of the morgue, there should not be another such incident,” the source said.

The old morgue has been decommissioned and will be demolished, as decided by the government. The Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC) will build lecture halls by demolishing the old morgue.

Autopsies are still conducted at the old morgue, as the drainage system of the new morgue is yet to be fixed. “It stinks when autopsies are conducted at the new hall as the drainage is not in order. The GSIDC is aware of it, but it is yet to be fixed,” the source said.

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