AS a society, conditions for the living here are far from ideal. However, even the dearly departed are not allowed to rest in peace due to the mismanagement of graveyards. The issue was raised during Wednesday’s session of Karachi’s City Council, as elected members of the local government deplored the state of cemeteries in the metropolis. As highlighted during the session, clean surroundings in graveyards is an alien concept, while there is also insufficient lighting. And the land mafia — a scourge that seems to be unstoppable in Karachi and many of the country’s other cities — has also not spared the dead, for the council session was told criminals were encroaching on graveyard land. Some councillors also raised the disturbing point that in the city’s graveyards stray dogs roamed freely, and there were reports that in some cemeteries the animals were digging up graves and devouring body parts. These shocking revelations should move the city government into action to ensure that the state of graveyards is improved.
Many of the city’s graveyards have long been filled to capacity, yet the practice of fresh burials in these overburdened spaces continues. As the mayor observed during the session, a ‘model graveyard’ is being constructed in the Surjani Town area. The fact is that along with new graveyards that are properly managed, the city’s existing cemeteries need to be cleaned up and appropriately maintained. It is sheer disrespect to the dead and to their loved ones when sewage inundates graves, animals and drug addicts roam about in cemeteries, and filth surrounds burial grounds. The local bodies need to pull up their socks where the maintenance of cemeteries is concerned. Some communities have set up burial grounds off the Superhighway; these graveyards are orderly, mostly clean and devoid of encroachments and wild animals. Perhaps the KMC can learn from civil society how to properly maintain burial grounds and implement these best practices in Karachi’s cemeteries.
Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2018