Broken windows, construction material strewn around, defunct burners, and other dysfunctional equipment greeted Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim during the inspection of the two crematoriums here on Monday.
At the sprawling Boloor crematorium, the gas burner – whose installation began in 2006 at a cost of Rs. 15 lakh – had not been used for more than two years, officials informed the DC. Since then, the burner had been stuck in bureaucratic indecision, with two proposals being floated to revive the burner: a Rs. 45-lakh proposal to convert the centre to an electric crematorium; and another Rs. 14-lakh just to fix gas rectification.
Incidentally, the gas burner replaced a “mal-functioning” electric crematorium that was installed there in 2001.
“How can you spend so much money, and not have the burner work for at least six years? MCC officials (Mangalore City Corporation) should have visited it at least once a week to check on its status,” said Mr. Ibrahim.
Instead, in the sprawling complex – whose prayer halls sport broken windows and mould-ridden ceilings – the bodies are burnt cast iron trays over firewood. Apart from the pitiable condition of these caskets, residents nearby pointed to the lack of a tariff board which led to “arbitrary” charges.
“They charge more than Rs. 2,500, and even Rs. 3,000 for cremation. People get cheated here,” said Deepak Kumar, from Bokkapatna. Similarly, residents complained of the dumping of plastics and other wastes by the Gurupura River banks, which affects nearly 40 houses.
“No wonder people do not have a good image of the MCC,” said Mr. Ibrahim, and instructed officials to start the process of reviving the crematorium.
The comment followed an earlier visit to the Nandigudda cemetery, whose crumbling infrastructure houses a burial ground and a crematorium. Construction of two new complexes, one small hall for prayers and re-construction of a compound wall had been started in February last year on an estimated budget of Rs. 20 lakh. Though the project was supposed to have been completed within six months, there has not been much progress so far.
“There were problems with payments initially, and even when this was done, the progress has not picked up…the contractor says he has labour problems as workers are spooked by working in a cemetery,” said Kantaraj, MCC Superintendent Engineer.
Construction stones line the graveyards, while grotto housing the idol of Shiva has glass panes missing. Mr. Ibrahim asked MCC officials to complete all works by March 15. He also directed the Tehsildhar to reserve the land as a cemetery or crematorium, and to check encroachments.