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Mumbai: Muslim cemetery trustees demand new plot of land, say 'third wave of COVID-19 may result in shortage of graves'

05:49 PM May 04, 2021 | Faisal Tandel

The second wave of covid-19 has noticed a shortage of beds, oxygens and remdivisir injections across the state. However, trustees from Wadala and Chembur cemetery claimed that third wave would result in shortage of graves in the city. Both the trustees have been demanding for a new plot of land and claim there's a delay from the government in the allotment procedure.

The Sunni Muslim Wadala Kabrastan trust had put up banners outside the cemetery alerting locals that its may close anytime. The trustee explaining the present situation had submitted letters to 10 corporators and two MLA's demanding the need for a new plot of land.

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Istiyag Shaikh, Secretary of Sunni Muslim Wadala Kabrastan trust claims we received dead bodies from the jurisdiction of 10 corporators and two MLA's. "At present the Wadala cemetery has 9 plots comprising 1132 graves in which 128 graves are reserved for children. Also, after the pandemic we have kept two plots i.e 165 graves reserved for covid dead bodies. So at the end we have around 800 graves for normal bodies. We carried out a survey checking the register of dead bodies for the last one year and found a total of 1000 dead bodies coming in. And we just have 800 graves to accommodate it. As per BMC, a dead body takes 18 months to decompose. How will we follow the recycle process," added Shaikh further explaining, "With time we need a new plot for a population that is rising. We carried out the survey, not for political strategy, but to alert the locals and the authorities for the need," added Istiyag.

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After the news of the cemetery about to get close spread across the vicinity the local corporator and authorities took it seriously and paid a visit on Tuesday.

Sufiyan Vanu, Congress Corporator of ward number 179 visited the cemetary along with health officials, maintainance department staff and officials from F-north ward and said, "The allegations made by the committee are baseless and are politically motived in the wave of coming election. We had surveyed the Wadala cemetery and found there is enough space and it will not be closed. However, with the rising population the need for new cemetary can't be neglected. As per the new plan, a reserved plot of 2 acres is allotted in Antophill area. The plot is encroached by slums. Since last two years we are fighting to get the plot following the government procedure" he added.

Dr. Nilesh Palve, Medical health officer, F-North ward who carried out a survey on Tuesday said, "We can't neglect the high flow of covid dead bodies last year. We found every plot has a space near the corners, where stones were thrown over. If we clean and maintain it properly we can prepare more 50 graves and make it useful. Also, till date, none of the dead bodies were sent to other graveyards. We are trying to make arrangement in every possible way."

Sumit Bandre, Death Register Karkun from F-North ward who also visited on Tuesday said,"If the flow of dead bodies kept increasing it may either have to be diverted or a new plot should be arranged. At present among the 165 graves for covid dead bodies, 125 are already occupied. Following the government rule the grave with covid bodies should not be dig for five years. So in coming day it may result in shortage of graves,"he added.

Chembur Cemetary is already facing the shortage of space and explains how they are managing during the pandemic time. Yusuf Patel, secretary Jamat-E-Muslimin Muslim Cemetary claims the Chembur cemetary is small with 291 graves to take the population of around 2 lakhs. "As we are short of space, almost a year ago we have stopped accepting covid detected dead bodies. We first asked for the report and if positive for covid we diverted them to Bada qabrastan, ready road (Nariyalwadi) or Deonar and Shivaji Nagar. Seeing the flow, from the last year we are not accepting normal dead bodies from PL. Lokhande Marg and Chembur (West) vicinity. Taking such steps had helped us to follow the BMC protocol of digging any grave after 18 months the period it takes to decompose. After taking all this step from stopping to diverting we manage to follow the 18 months recycle process. Now as per the chain we have completed 17 months cycle and not dig up the same grave," added Patel.

Patel who is also heading the Chembur South Muslim Jamat, a committee fighting for allotment of land for new cemetary said, "After our demands the authorities have shown us a reserved plot in Mahul. They have also carried a survey for it. Seeing the present pandemic situation and keeping in mind the third wave. The authorities should take a quick decision and complete the procedure of the new cemetery in Mahul. It may be useful in coming days. Their we could take dead bodies from across the city as it would big enough,"added Patel.

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