ISLAMABAD: The Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) has decided to address various issues at the Christian graveyard in H-9, including providing streetlights and a space for memorial services.

MCI spokesperson Mohsin Sherazi told Dawn that a previous graveyard in H-9, known as Gora Qabristan was filled years ago.

He said more space was allotted to act as an extension of the graveyard a few years ago, but there are still a number of issues such as the absence of a boundary wall around the extension, for which a summary has been prepared to allocate funding.

There are also sanitation issues, he said, and a team of workers has been deputed to clean the graveyard.

Streetlights are also lacking in the extension, which the MCI has decided to provide, he said.

“Although there was a place for the memorial service, it lacked a shed, so it has been decided to construct a shed so people do not suffer during the rain or sunny days,” he said.

Mr Sherazi said there are 2,000 graves in the graveyard, and more land will be allocated as the number increases.

Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz had visited the graveyard in H-9 on Friday to observe the arrangements and facilities provided to residents there.

He expressed concern regarding the lack of streetlights and sanitation facilities, and directed the municipal administration, sanitation and environment directorates to ensure the graveyard is kept clean.

He also directed that out-of-order streetlights be repaired and new lights be installed where needed.

PML-N leaders Mansoor Masih, Gulzar Masih and others were present during the visit.

Mr Aziz also visited a graveyard in H-8 and ordered for facilities and cleanliness to be ensured there.

Islamabad’s first official graveyard was made in H-8 in 1964. It had the capacity for 40,000 graves, and was filled in 2007.

In May 2007, the CDA began using the H-11 graveyard, which has a similar capacity as the H-8 graveyard but with wider pavements and more facilities.

According to an MCI official, the pavements in the H-8 graveyard are five feet wide and each plot is 90x90ft with 128 graves. In H-11, the pavements are 10ft wide with a 3ft wide drainage line alongside, and each plot is 123x123ft with 332 graves.

There is parking space available for 240 vehicles, funeral prayer facilities for 10,000 people as well as toilets.

“Although the graveyard for Christians is on just a few acres, the population of Christians is smaller than that of Muslims, so it is sufficient. More land can be arranged for the Christian graveyard if needed,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2020