Lucknow: Disquiet over crematorium and proposed shifting refuses to die down
A fresh controversy arose on Sunday when residents of several housing societies of Jankipuram Extension learned the Sector J crematorium will now be moved to a plot close to them.
It is a burning issue that is too close to home for many in a Lucknow locality.
The shifting of a crematorium, currently situated in Jankipuram Extension’s Sector J here, continues to stir up a hornet’s nest. The Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) is yet to come up with a concrete solution even a year after the issue came to the fore, according to people familiar with the matter.
A fresh controversy arose on Sunday when residents of several housing societies of Jankipuram Extension learned the Sector J crematorium will now be moved to a plot close to them. The proposed new site near Power House, Sulabh Awas, is about 1.5 kilometres from the cremation ground’s current location near Ashraye Heen Colony, Sector J, Jankipuram Extension.A meeting-cum-protest was held by over 200 residents. They were joined by members of five-six housing societies, including those living in several LDA high-rises like Sristi, Smriti, Sargam, and Sulabh Awas among others.
The residents pledged not to allow a cremation ground in their area.
“The smoke will harm us,” they said.
“If LDA does not listen to us we will protest at the LDA office,” said Vivek Sharma, vice-president, Jan Kalyan Mahasamiti and a resident.
“We’ll be the most affected as our society is right in front of the demarcated land,” said PK Mishra, president of Adarsh Kalyan Welfare Society, Sulabh Awas.
“We’re with the residents and support this protest,” said All India Hindu Mahasabha state president Rishi Trivedi.
The residents also formed a group and named it Shamshan Hatao Sanyukt Sangharsh Mahasamiti.
In the meantime, Sector J residents are yet to get any relief as bodies continue to be consigned to flames in front of their homes.
“We’re glad that the crematorium will be shifted. (But) now a protest by hundreds of Jankipuram (Extension) residents will halt its shifting and will dominate our voices which are few,” said Brijesh Gupta, a Sector J resident.
“I’m seeing bodies being burnt in front of our houses for the last 20 years. Looks like this problem will never end,” Gupta added. “The newly allotted land is still far from the societies, but the current crematorium is only 10 feet from our houses. We cook, sleep, and live with smoke,” he said, adding that the last body was burnt in July.
A villager from the nearby Paharpur, who refused to reveal his identity, said, “We will continue to cremate bodies until a solution is found.”
Yogesh Shukla, the MLA from Bakshi Ka Talab in Lucknow, said: “I have learnt that people are not happy and have protested on the matter. I’m with the public of Jankipuram and a fresh application will be given to LDA VC for shifting of land to somewhere less crowded. I will personally talk to the VC.”
Lucknow Development Authority vice-chairman Indramani Tripathi said, “If the residents have expressed their displeasure over it, we will try to see another land. The place was chosen due to the green belt, however, if locals are unhappy, LDA will think of it.”
In Jankipuram Extension’s Sector J, a park area intended for a children’s playground is used as a crematorium by residents from Paharpur, a village nearby. LDA authorities had earlier said that the map already had a demarcation of both a park and a crematorium.
Sector J residents, whose houses are only a few feet away from the park, claimed that the park was meant to be a children’s playground. Paharpur villagers said they have been cremating bodies here for years and no one can stop them as the land is still listed as a crematorium in official documents.
This led to a tussle between the two groups. Sector J residents said they often face anger and are heckled when they protest against the villagers. The other group said half the park belongs to the crematorium.
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
A Sector J resident, Brijesh Gupta, filed a Public Interest Litigation in 2022 seeking relocation of the crematorium.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court, in its order dated January 31, 2022, disposed of the matter, asking LDA and other authorities to consider relocation of the (cremation) ground at an appropriate place with promptness.
When nothing happened for months, locals started protesting. Divisional commissioner Roshan Jacob summoned LDA vice-chairman Indramani Tripathi to a public hearing and directed him to relocate the cremation ground away from the residential areas. After inspection by LDA VC and MLA Neeraj Bora recently, a plot was identified in Jankipuram Extension for shifting of the crematorium. However, the land again is close to residential colonies.