Graveyards draw govt attention

Complaints rife of lack of security, sanitation, lights, water supply


Afzal Talib October 24, 2021
File photo

LAHORE:

In view of the dilapidated condition of the more than 10,000 cemeteries across the province, Punjab Local Government Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal has issued orders for immediate steps to improve the facilities for the citizens.

Neglect of the departments concerned and lack of resources has left the boundary walls and paths in the graveyards in disrepair and the citizens visiting the graveyards for burials and Fateha Khawani also face problems because of lack of lights and water. Lack of security guards causes a feeling of insecurity among the visitors. On the other hand, stray dogs, snakes and other insects are rampant in the cemeteries in the absence of regular cleaning.

The provincial secretary has issued instructions for immediate steps to improve the condition of the cemeteries across Punjab, which includes 8,668 public and a large number of private graveyards. The instructions were issued amid increasing complaints in this regard.

The walls along the roads have not been repaired for a long time, while the water and lighting facilities have not been adequately maintained. A large number of cemeteries lack boundary walls and security guards.

Due to the lack of street lights, those visiting the graves of their loved ones at night face the risk of accidents and attacks by stray dogs. Grass and shrubs spread unchecked because of lack of regular maintenance of the premises by the sanitary staff. This results in proliferation of snakes, insects and spiders, posing a threat to the visitors.

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A number of tube wells used to supply water in the cemeteries in urban areas are not functioning. Thus water is not available for the citizens and gravediggers, especially at the time of burial.

Lack of security arrangements ad resulted in an increasing number of crimes in the cemeteries at night, especially drug use and sale.

Miani Sahib, the major graveyard of the provincial capital, also has insufficient street lights and its boundary walls are collapsing.

Gujranwala division has the highest number of government cemeteries in the province at 1,333, followed by Lahore with 1,131, Multan 1,093, Bahawalpur 1,011 and Faisalabad 1,007. There are 561 cemeteries in Dera Ghazi Khan division, 996 in the Rawalpindi, 933 in the Sahiwal and 603 in Sargodha. The condition of almost all the graveyards is bad.

The situation is not better in many privately managed cemeteries as well because of shortage of resources and lack of government support.

The condition of the cemeteries is much better in large private housing schemes, but those in small societies lack basic facilities. Officials of the relevant government agencies, including Lahore Development Authority, municipal and tehsil councils have failed to fulfill their responsibilities in this regard.

As a result, the problems and complaints of the people are increasing.

In view of the situation, Local Government Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal has issued written orders to the local governments and deputy commissioners to improve the condition of all government cemeteries immediately. Talking to The Express Tribune, he said the condition of cemeteries across Punjab would be improved to facilitate the people.

Orders have been issued to provide fences, lights, water supply and other facilities in cemeteries. The facilities would be regularly monitored, the official added. He vowed to provide better facilities to the people for the burial of their loved ones, repair the graves and pray for the deceased.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2021.

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