CHENNAI: When most burial grounds are maintained like a park in Chennai, the Mullai Nagar burial ground in Vyasarpadi is a stark contrast. With a dysfunctional gas crematorium, no compound wall, no drinking water facility and overgrown bushes teeming with slithering snakes, it is a nightmare. The burial ground has apparently been closed down by the Chennai Corporation for burying bodies in land unsuitable for burials. “Chennai Corporation closed down the burial after it was found not suitable for burial. There is a lot of ground water seepage even at two feet deep, as the place is close to the Cooum,” said J K Ramesh, Ward 37 Councillor.
In August 2009, the Corporation constructed a modern gasifier based crematorium at the ground at a cost of Rs 60 lakh, but that has also closed down due to the repair of gasifier and people are burning bodies using wooden logs in the crematorium shed. “People who follow the ritual of burning bodies come here, or else they have to go to either Kodungaiyur, Perambur or Otteri burial grounds. But again, the majority of the neighbourhood comes here. Since there is no maintenance, people are going to the neighouring areas with great difficulty, “ said S A Deivamani, president of Artisan Colony Residents’ Welfare Association.
The place is filled with bushes and only 10 per cent is left for usage in the one acre property. With no compound wall around it, it’s almost as if it’s free entry for tipplers and also people who want to defecate. “Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board shifted a group of people from another part of Vyasarpadi here temporarily. They are living in make shift houses, opposite to the burial ground. Though they are provided with toilets at the site, people who hesistate to take those extra steps are using this as a place to attend nature’s calls,” alleged Deivamani.
“I have placed a proposal with the Chennai Corporation three years ago, but things are yet to move. Gasifier is under repair and it will be attended to soon. But for other facilities, only senior officials have to take steps,” said Ramesh. A person at the burial ground said that snakes slithering across the burial ground were an added hazard. When CE team visited the place twice during office hours, there was no sight of the Corporation staff to attend to the people and give clearance or finish the formalities before cremating bodies. Speaking to CE, Dr M Jagadeesan, Chief Health Officer, Chennai Corporation, said,”I will have a look at the site sometime in the coming days and check on it,” he added.