Most Hindu burial grounds in the core Bengaluru full; outer zones lack sufficient facilities
Hindu burial grounds are facing the same problem plaguing Christian cemeteries: paucity of space to bury the dead in the wake of the heavy toll that the second wave of COVID-19 has taken on society.
Many of the grounds in the core city area are mostly full. The problem is compounded by the fact that facilities to bury the dead don’t seem to have kept pace with rapid expansion of urban sprawl in the newly added areas to the city, especially the south-east parts of Bengaluru that house the IT Corridor.
A 2017 survey revealed there were 180 burial grounds in the city, a majority of them for Hindus. However, most of the facilities in the core city including Harischandra Ghat in Rajajinagar and burial grounds in Srirampuram, Hebbal, Banashankari, Geddalahalli, Pillanna Gardens, Shantinagar, Lingarajapuram, Ejipura, Koramangala, Neelasandra and Lakshmipura are full, said A. Suresh, State secretary, Ambedkar Dalit Sangharsh Samiti. “There is no space to bury new bodies unless old tombs are disturbed. One of the very few places with some free space is Kalpalli Hindu Burial Grounds,” he said.
Within this limited space, there is a skewed utilisation of resources and encroachments. “In clear violation of government rules, many families have built mantapas for space to bury all members of their families, by bribing officials. Also, most of these burial grounds have been internally demarcated on caste lines, which amounts to cornering space. There are other encroachments too. For instance, the civic body has built a Dry Waste Collection Centre in an already stressed Harischandra Ghat and a temple in Srirampuram burial grounds. ” Mr. Suresh complained.
In 2019, the BBMP took up a project to create new burial grounds in the city, especially in the outer zones. But the Revenue Department allotted four parcels of land for the purpose, all in north Bengaluru, though it was south-east parts of the city that have grown rapidly over the years.
Jagadish Reddy, a resident and activist from Varthur, said there is a severe shortage of burial grounds and crematoriums in south-east Bengaluru. “The old burial grounds of erstwhile villagers are all full and are not able to serve the sea of new population that has come to settle in this area in the last two decades,” he said.
During the peak of the first wave of COVID-19 in August 2020, Bengaluru Urban District administration announced that it would open 10 burial grounds on the city’s outskirts to serve all communities irrespective of religion. However, most have not been opened as cremation is the preferred mode of last rites for those who have succumbed to the virus. The administration started three open crematoriums on the city’s outskirts last month, at the peak of the second wave.