NEW DELHI: After receiving complaints about exorbitant rates being charged for burial at different graveyards, the Delhi Waqf Board (DWB) has decided to cap the cost of about 20-24 square feet (sqft) of land required for the graves at Rs 3,000. The DWB is the custodian of several mosques and graveyards in the national capital. According to DWB officials, the management committees of Muslim cemeteries had been directed not to charge more than Rs 3,000 for a grave.
“A slew of conditions are also being imposed. Some have been forcing people to cough up from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh depending on the location. It is unfortunate that some consider this as a business and don’t think about the poor city residents. Now, all of them will be bound to the conditions of the Board,” said the official on the condition of anonymity. According to a report ‘Problems and status of Muslim graveyards in Delhi’ conducted by Human Development Society for Delhi Minority Commission in 2017, there are 131 graveyards in the city. 16 of these are not functioning due to litigation or bad landscape.
The DWB is the custodian of 62 while the remaining are run or managed by private individuals, municipal corporations and the Delhi Development Authority. Himal Akhtar, a member of the Board, said that the decision had been taken to stop ‘loot’. “We will have to stop this swindling. High cost for graves is being charged from next of kin. We will take adequate measures to implement this ceiling of Rs 3,000. It will be binding to all burial grounds,” said Akhtar, who is also the chairman of Bar Council of Delhi.
The cost of a grave in burial grounds in proximity to a shrine of a Sufi-Saint or a significant religious site is higher than the other cemeteries which are generally located in remote areas. “Several sites are running beyond their capacity. Pacca (stone structure) graves are not advisable. If relatives insist, they are asked to shell out more for a ‘permanent’ grave. But this practice should stop. The Board is fixing the price. It is a sensible move,” said a former member of a city graveyard committee.