New initiative to ease Pindi’s funeral woes

Pakistan Sweet Home launches project to address shortage of space in old graveyards

Jamil Mirza May 14, 2024


To address Rawalpindi's pressing graveyard shortage issue, Pakistan Sweet Home has unveiled a new project to provide all necessary facilities for the preparation of graves, provision of shrouds, transfer of the deceased to the cemetery, and burial

The “Safar-e-Akhrat” project aims to offer all the essential services free of charge.

The backdrop of this project includes the Punjab government's establishment of a cemetery spanning 1000 kanals of land in Rakh Dhamyal. This move came as the space for new graves had become exhausted in the oldest 54 cemeteries across Rawalpindi city and cantonment areas. Specifically, 500 kanals of land have been allocated for Rawalpindi city, while 200 kanals have been designated for Rawalpindi and Chaklala Cantt, with another 100 kanals allocated for the Christian community. Additionally, 200 kanals of land within the cemetery have been set aside for funeral prayers, mortuary facilities, parking, and open spaces.

However, efforts to make this cemetery fully operational akin to the model graveyard in Lahore faced challenges due to the Shehr-e-Khamoshan Authority's alleged negligence. This delay allowed the ‘gravedigger mafia’ to exploit the situation in old cemeteries by demolishing decayed graves at night and offering new graves at exorbitant prices, ranging from thirty to forty thousand rupees.

In contrast, the Rawalpindi administration has established a fixed rate of five thousand rupees for grave preparation and the supply of necessary equipment at Rakh Dhamyal Cemetery.

The Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation and the Cantonment Board each possess a single bus, highlighting the need for enhanced transportation infrastructure in the area.

The Station Commander, Brigadier Ahmad Nawaz, directed the cantonment administration to establish a cemetery committee and manage gravediggers during his visit to the cemetery on November 28, 2023. Despite this, the execution of these instructions and the administrative takeover of 200 kanals of land for the cantonment remains pending after five months. In response to this situation, Zamurad Khan, head of Pakistan Sweet Home, has initiated the “Safr-e-Akhrat” project focusing on new graves at Rakh Dhamyal Cemetery.

An administrative office for this project has been set up within the Municipal Corporation office. The project will soon commence, with Pakistan Sweet Home providing ambulances as part of the initiative.

Under the “Safr-e-Akhrat” project, free shrouds, grave preparation, and burial facilities will be available for the poor and needy, aligning with the vision of providing essential services without cost barriers. It's worth noting that during his tenure as former chief minister of Punjab, Mian Shehbaz Sharif allocated Rs200 million for establishing a model cemetery on 1,000 kanals of land in Rakh Dhamyal in the budget of 2017/18.

However, due to project delays, these allocated funds face potential lapsing.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2024.


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