WHILE the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is working towards effective implementation of the Development Plan 2034, ward A’s long-term need for a cemetery is unlikely to be addressed anytime soon since the land allocated in the new plan has currently been leased to the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited. Apart from setting up a cemetery, the civic officials of A ward have started taking measures to ensure that the reservations including a solid waste management (SWM) segregation unit as well as night shelters can be implemented as soon as the draft DP 2034 is approved by the state government.
The need for a cemetery was recently voiced by local BJP corporator Makarand Narwekar, who has written to the municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta and the assistant municipal commissioner Kiran Dighavkar asking for an alternate site for the cemetery. “The residents of A ward have to go to the cemetery in Chandanwadi due to unavailability of a cemetery in their own ward and there is a dire need of one in A ward. Residents of five wards are currently dependent on two cemeteries including one at Banganga in D ward. Of the three electric furnaces at Chandanwadi, two are not working at most times,” said Narwekar.
In his letter to the BMC sent on Monday, Narwekar stated that “an alternate site be found for a crematorium that can be developed for the said use immediately” and also urged the civic officials to explore the possibility of reclaiming land for the same. Civic officials said that the land measuring around 8,490.55 square metres at Cuffe Parade was leased out to the MMRCL, with the MMRDA as the planning authority last year, for temporary use for a period of at least three years. “The Metro work will easily take more than five years and it is unfair that the residents of A ward would not have a cemetery till then. The BMC should suggest an alternative plot within the ward limits,” said Narwekar.
To highlight the need for a cemetery, a Colaba resident Renu Kapoor cited a personal experience. “My driver passed away on April 12 and we had to take his body to Chandanwadi. When we reached there, we were told that the crematorium was not functional since there was no electricity and his grieving family members had to wait for eight hours before they were told that they would have to opt for a wooden burner instead of the electric furnace,” she said.
Kapoor added that owing to the poor maintenance of the electric crematoriums, more people are forced to opt for the traditional use of wood which isn’t eco-friendly. “On that day, four families were harassed in a similar way. The dead deserve some dignity during their last rites,” she said. After her experience, Kapoor suggested a campaign termed ‘Dignity in Death’ under which she has proposed measures for the upgradation of the Chandanwadi cemetery.
The civic officials have started taking up measures to complete all formalities prior to the implementation of reservations made in the DP 2034. As part of the Central Park which is supposed to be spread over 300 acres of reclaimed land, the civic officials will float the tender this week to appoint an agency that will survey the settlements on the 48 km long coastline at Cuffe Parade. “The study will be an analysis of the people who are currently living along the coast to understand the ground reality so that we can figure out their rehabilitation plan,” said a civic official.
The BMC is also planning to construct an SWM segregation centre at Suraksha Garden in Cuffe Parade and the SWM department has already sanctioned Rs 40 lakh for it. The A ward will also construct two night shelters near the Wankhede stadium.