A consignment containing 170 coffins have arrived in Kerala with a Alappuzha district-based company entering into a tie-up with a firm in Shanghai.
"We have entered into a tie-up with a firm in Shanghai for the manufacture of coffins," said Sateesh Thomas, proprietor of a company who is importing the coffins.
The coffins, named 'Sworgapetty (Heaven box), is made from the Paulownia tree wood, available in plenty in China.
"The wood is environment friendly, strong and degradable in a week's time, Thomas said here.
"This is the first time that coffins made in China is coming to Indian market," he said. The price ranges between Rs 20,000 to Rs two lakh.
"We plan to bring in more boxes at a stretch and also planning to import the materials and assemble it here, to reduce the prices, to make it affordable to the common man."
Shortage of wood and lack of trained manpower to make coffins have led to its scarcity in the state, he said and cited it as reasons behind the firm, now engaged in furniture business, to diverse its operations to coffin import.
"Coffin making is a family owned business. The new generation is not coming forward to take up the business, mainly due to some kind of negative image associated with the trade," he said.
In China, coffins made of cardboards were available. But, they were not suitable to Indian beliefs and culture, he said. "We have asked the agency in Shanghai to re-design the coffins in tune with the cultural conditions of the country." The price of cardboard coffins would be very less compared to the ones made of Paulownia tree wood, he said.