CHENNAI: Even as the number of families at the resettlement site in Kannagi Nagar has increased to more than 20,000, the residents are still using a firewood crematorium that was built in 2000, for 6,000 families. The residents said they have been petitioning the officials to increase the area and convert it into an electric crematorium or gasifier for more than 15 years.
According to residents, the crematorium was built in 2000 after 6,000 families from slums were resettled in Kannagi Nagar. In 2004, another 9,000 families, including those affected by tsunami, were shifted there while 8,000 families were allotted houses in nearby Ezhil Nagar in 2013. “There are more than 23,000 families in Kannagi Nagar and Ezhil Nagar, who use the crematorium. On an average, at least 50 cremations take place at the facility every month,” said Anbarasi, a resident.
“I live near the crematorium. Bodies are not cremated properly and once a month, they burn all the remains. This generates a lot of smoke, making it difficult for us to stay inside the house. There is no place to bury the bodies inside the crematorium as some families follow the tradition,” said J Mythili, who lives in the locality.
The residents also alleged they are being forced to shell out more money. “Despite it being a corporation facility, we are made to pay anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 for a cremation. As almost all of us are daily wage labourers and it is difficult for us to pay the money. The authorities should take action on the issue,” said I Devika, another resident.
The condition of burial ground for Muslims nearby is also not good. Ashwini Karuna, councillor of ward 192, said she has submitted a petition to the corporation asking to modernise the crematorium. “The corporation said it would be be converted into an LPG gasifier. The collection of money is a common problem in all crematoriums and several councillors have raised the issue. I have also mentioned it in my petition,” she said.