Cremation ground smack in middle of flats in Dhakoli | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Cremation ground smack in middle of flats in Dhakoli

Rapid Urbanisation: Decades-old cremation ground located in front urban residential complexes is bone of contention between villagers of Dhakola and flat owners; villagers cite emotional attachment even as others suffer from foul smell, harmful smoke and distressing scenes during a funeral

punjab Updated: Nov 13, 2017 15:23 IST
Shub Karman Dhaliwal
View of the decades-old cremation ground in Dhakola village.
View of the decades-old cremation ground in Dhakola village. (HT Photo)

The rural way of life is under constant threat as Chandigarh’s periphery witnesses rapid urbanisation. A fine example is a dispute between flat dwellers and villagers over a decade-old cremation ground in Dhakoli village.

Even as the number of multi-storey residential complexes in Dhakoli increases, villagers do not want to give up part of their tradition for those who have only recently settled here. People living in these urban societies want the cremation ground to be relocated to the outer area of both these villages, close to the main road.

Residents of Guru Nanak Nagar society, situated right opposite the cremation ground, said the smell of burning flesh has made life increasingly difficult.

However, Dhakola’s natives say they are emotionally attached to the cremation ground because they have used it for so many decades.

Former sarpanch Jagdev Singh said, “Our ancestors were cremated in this ground so our people are emotionally attached to this ground.” He is now a councillor at Zirakpur municipal committee; Dhakola village is under the jurisdiction of this committee. Apart from the villagers, people living in nearby areas such as the heavily populated Dashmesh Colony also burn the bodies of their deceased here.

Rahul Sharma, a resident of Guru Nanak Nagar, said, “Seeing the burning pyre early in the morning spoils the entire day. We often come out for surya namaskar in the morning, but the smell of burning flesh makes us retreat.”

Other societies such as Shalimar Enclave and Kam Dhenu Society with a total population of over 10,000 are also affected.

Residents said the smoke and smell after burning a body stays in the air for over two days, making it difficult for them to even cook.

Another resident of Guru Nanak Nagar said watching people mourn their dead made you sad. “We have spent lakhs on our houses for a comfortable and pleasant lifestyle. The problem here is severe and needs urgent attention of the authorities,” said Poonam Sharma, a resident of D-Block in Shalimar Enclave.

On average, one body is cremated every alternate day at the cremation ground. The scene when a body is brought for the funeral also has a psychological impact. “It obviously brings bad thoughts when see people mourning,” added Sharma.

“Kids start crying on seeing the funeral pyre. The smoke enters our homes posing a health risk,” she added.

“We are prepared to relocate the cremation ground provided that the municipal committee allots land somewhere near the village,” said Jagdev. He added that both the villages have been around for centuries, but urbanisation brought in new localities such as Guru Nanak Nagar in the recent past.

He concluded, “But we understand their problems and are ready to do the needful.”

Dhakoli councillor Ajaib Singh said, “We are trying our best to convince the villagers but it will take time. The concerns of the residents are genuine and are being taken up on priority.”