Bengaluru: The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has decided to open 10 burial grounds on the outskirts of Bengaluru city to give patients who have died of Covid-19 an honourable final farewell.
ThePrint has learnt that the 10 new burial grounds will come up on 23 acres of land across five locations. All religions and sects that bury their dead will be allowed to use these grounds.
There have been growing demands from several communities who bury their dead that a place be earmarked for the last rites. But due to the shortage of burial grounds and stigma associated with Covid-19 patients even after death, many of the bodies have been cremated. BBMP officials also say residents living near the burial grounds in the city have protested against letting Covid-19 patients be buried there.
“Religions such as Christianity and Islam do not believe in cremation. There has been a growing demand to allow people to bury the dead. Places that are being earmarked will at least give the family a chance to bid their dear ones farewell with dignity,” said a BBMP official who did not want to be named.
BBMP Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad stated that Karnataka’s revenue department has almost completed the process of demarcating the land that will serve as the burial grounds. “Once the process is complete, the BBMP will open them,” he said.
State Health Minister B. Sriramulu had earlier raised apprehensions over the unscientific disposal of PPE kits after burials, and instructed that separate burial grounds be assigned for Covid-19 patients.
Religious leaders’ appeals
Peter Machado, the Archbishop of Bangalore, had written a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, asking the government to grant them land on the outskirts of the city for Covid-19 burial grounds.
“For the last two years, there was a long pending demand from the Christian community to be granted a separate burial ground on the outskirts. The city’s burial grounds have been overflowing,” said J.A. Kantharaj, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Bangalore.
“With the Covid situation, we urgently need more space. We have informed the state government that the diocese has pockets of land that could be earmarked for Covid-19 patients. We initially asked for land exclusively for our community. Now that the government has decided to make it a common burial place for all religions, we are yet to receive any communication,” Kantharaj added.
Religious leaders have been appealing to people to sensitise themselves to how the virus spreads.
“People should understand that the virus does not spread after a person is dead. It needs a live person to sustain itself. People should educate themselves more about this,” said Kantharaj.
The religious leaders have petitioned the government, requesting police intervention in areas where local residents have been protesting and even blocking ambulances to stop patients from being buried.
One such incident took place in Vidyaranyapura in Bengaluru on 16 July. Residents parked an earth-mover at the entrance of the burial ground to stop an ambulance carrying an 86-year-old man who had died of Covid. The police finally intervened, but the residents refused to budge. The body was finally buried at the Hosur Christian cemetery.
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