Burials in most Karachi graveyards continue despite ‘official’ ban

Published June 12, 2017
The Paposh Nagar graveyard in North Nazimabad is also affected by the ban on burials due to non-availability of space.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
The Paposh Nagar graveyard in North Nazimabad is also affected by the ban on burials due to non-availability of space.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: Many in Karachi would wonder to know that the burial in most of the 237 graveyards in the city is officially banned by the local government, but due to non-availability of the new facilities the municipal authorities deliberately “ignore” the violation while waiting for approval from the higher authorities to set up six new graveyards along three major highways, officials and sources said.

A senior official confirmed that the local government had banned the burial in the city graveyards, but due to non-availability of space in the metropolis it had failed to impose its ruling as the people had no other option to bury their loved ones at any other place.

“Even burial in some prominent graveyards like those of Sakhi Hasan, Paposh Nagar and Tariq Road is officially banned,” said Masood Alam, senior director municipal services of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).

224 such facilities under control of ‘self-appointed administrators, land mafias’

“We can’t force that ban as people don’t have any other option. To improve the situation at the available graveyards, a fund of Rs347 million has been proposed in the budget for the next fiscal year. But even if it’s approved, we can’t create space in these graveyards for more burial. The fund can only be utilised for the maintenance of these facilities,” he said.

Among 237 graveyards in the city, the KMC officials admit to having lost the control of some 224 facilities over the years to “self-claimed administrators, land mafias and encroachers”, prompting the civic administration to propose the ban on further burial in the cemeteries across the city and setting up of six new ones along three major highways.

The growing control of “mafias” over the graveyards had not only been a nuisance for Karachiites, but also led to encroachments and illegal plotting and constructions through “China-cutting”, an official said.

He said there were 237 graveyards in the city, but practically the KMC had control over only 13 of them. Others are controlled and managed by different groups and individuals.

“The fact is that there is hardly any space available for a graveyard in the city. The situation is so bad that the people or groups controlling the management of the graveyards are now exploiting the situation,” he added.

The official said that a proposal had been prepared to set up some six new graveyards in the city’s outskirts along the highways to cope with the requirement as the facilities within the city had no more space.

“Six major sites have been identified along three main highways — Superhighway, National Highway and RCD Highway,” said another official. “Each graveyard could cater for two districts of the city. The facilities are proposed on large pieces of land to cater for the need of the city like Karachi. Unfortunately, there is no go-ahead from the top authorities on the proposal.”

He referred to a project in Punjab where Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had given a nod last year to establish a “Model Graveyard Authority” under the provincial government’s Shehr-i-Khamoshan project to develop and oversee affairs of the model facilities across the province.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2017

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