No cemetery, crematorium for city Christians, BuddhistsShahin Akhter
Representatives of the Christian and the Buddhist communities of the Dhaka city have demanded that the government should set up dedicated cemetery and crematorium for them as, at present, there is none.
Officials in the Dhaka South City Corporation and the Dhaka North City Corporation have told New Age that till now they had no plan to set up any graveyard or crematorium for the Buddhists and the Christians.
According to both city corporations, there are six graveyards for Muslim and two crematoriums for the Hindu citizens in the city.
Dhaka Cemetery Board secretary Gerome Sarker told New Age on Thursday that there were 22 churches in the city, where only the bodies of members of these institutions were buried.
‘For the rest, we take them to Wari Cemetery in old Dhaka,’ he said, adding that it was hazardous to go to the cemetery from the city’s remotest areas.
Gerome Sarker said within two to three years they had to repeat burying bodies in a grave as there was an acute space crisis in these existing Christian cemeteries.
He said there should be a dedicated public graveyard in Dhaka for about 50,000 Christian citizens. ‘No city corporation officials talked to us about constructing any cemetery for us.’
Immanuel Baptist Church pastor Reverend Byron Bonik said Dhaka had been divided into two parts and there should be a public cemetery especially at the Dhaka North City Corporation.
‘If there is a public cemetery at this part of the city, we will not have to go to the Wari Cemetery,’ he added.
The erstwhile Dhaka City Corporation was allocated Tk 3 crore in its 2011-2012 budget for making a crematorium for the Buddhists.
International Buddhist Monastery chief abbot and the Supreme Sangha Council of Bangladesh’s assistant secretary Venerable Dharma Mitra Mahathero said on Friday that they were facing many problems for lack of dedicated crematorium for them.
‘If anyone of us dies, we need to share the Razarbagh crematorium with the Hindus,’ he said, adding that sometimes the relatives take their dear one’s bodies to the village or Chittagong for funeral.
Bangladesh Buddhist Federation joint general secretary Bhikkhu Sunanda Prioia said they had contacted the former mayor, Sadeque Hossain Khoka, in regard to setting up a crematorium for them in the city.
‘The city corporation had allocated budget for setting up a crematorium at Badda but the plan has remained unimplemented till now,’ he added.
Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Oikya Parishad presidium member Subrata Chowdhury said it was very sad that there was no dedicated graveyard or crematorium for the Christian or Buddhist citizens in the city.
‘The government should immediately take initiatives to set up dedicated graveyard or crematorium for them,’ he added.
Tajul Islam Pradhan, chief estate officer for both city corporations, told New Age on Thursday that he was not aware if there was any allocation for the Buddhist crematorium or plan to build new graveyard.
‘I can talk only about my department’s activities about the existing graveyards or crematoriums,’ he added.
The DCC south’s chief engineer, Zahangir Alam, admitting his ignorance about any plan for setting up new graveyards or crematoriums or budgetary allocation for them, said, ‘I have joined recently, so I am not aware of these things,’ he added.
The DCC North’s chief engineer, Mohammad Ahsanul Huq Miah, said as far as he knew there was no plan to set up new graveyards or crematoriums in the city.
The former DCC had initiated a project in 2003 to establish new graveyards in the city. The project was revised in 2007 with a proposal to establish two graveyards – one at Mirpur Goran Chatbari and another at Aftabnagar.
Mohammad Nurul Amin, project director and DCC South’s superintendent engineer of environment circle, told New Age recently that they had a plan to establish a separate crematorium for the Buddhist citizens beside the Aftabnagar graveyard.
A senior official of the Local Government Division told New Age on February this year that they were yet to get any information about this proposed Buddhist crematorium from the corporation officials.
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