Mumbai: In the megapolis of Mumbai, it is not just the living who must fight for space. Even those who have passed on must do so.
The paucity of burial space in Thane has made St John the Baptist Church request its parishioners to shift the mortal remains of those who have been gone for more than two years to a niche at the earliest.
Despite the church being the landowner, it is making parishioners scout for fresh burial space for their loved ones.
Fr Jerome Lobo, parish priest, St John the Baptist Church, Thane, said, “We had put up a notice saying that those who had got temporary graves and which are more than 2.5 years old should remove the remains and keep it in niches. Because there is no space at all, either in our cemeteries or other cemeteries in Thane.”
Fr Lobo said that the Three Petrol Pump cemetery in Thane too was full.
“Also, due to Covid, the situation worsened. We are trying our best to see if new places can be found. A lot of promises are being made by the authorities but nothing has been happening and the graves are all full,” Fr Lobo said.
A parishioner said that when they wanted to bury a family member, they were told to go to some other cemetery.
“All our family members are buried here. We cannot go to Sewri cemetery or some faraway place to bury our loved ones. It is the duty of the church to provide us burial space,” he said.
Melwyn Fernandes, secretary, Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) said that some plots reserved for cemeteries had been sold by the church in 2004.
“The church is selling the land it owns and doing nothing for cemeteries. They are building schools and churches but no cemetery is built.”
Fernandes has raised this issue with the Archdiocese of Bombay, which is the hierarchy for all churches in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad.
“We were to file a PIL but the efforts came to naught. So the parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy Church in Thane moved court four months ago and the matter has to come up for hearing,” said Fernandes.
Interestingly, the lack of burial space had forced parishioners to bury a 95-year-old ex-serviceman in the residential zone of Our Lady of Mercy Church on Pokhran Road in Thane.
Eleven parishioners had faced FIRs before the onset of the pandemic, for burying the decorated Armyman on church land by Thane Municipal Corporation.
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