Majiwali on Vasai's outskirts has no crematorium and a private property has blocked them from the temporary funeral spot along a stream
On April 28, villagers were forced to cremate Madhukar Choghla on the side of the road. Pics/Hanif Patel
The village of Majiwali, which lies on the outskirts of Vasai, with a population of 3,000, has running water, electricity, housing for all and is free of open defecation. It is a good village for the living, but is devoid of a resting place for its dead. The lack of a crematorium forced villagers, who have been fighting apathy, to perform the last rites of a 77-year-old resident on the side of a road last week.
Majiwali is located on the Parol-Bhiwandi road Vasai. The villagers have been waiting for decades to get a proper crematorium, but are nowhere close to having one even now. Prior to last week, they would go near a stream for cremation. But now, they have been denied access to the only road that leads to it, as it falls under private property.
Faced issue for decades
And so, on April 28, when resident Madhukar Choghla, 77, died of natural causes, the villagers did not know where to perform his last rites. "We've faced this issue for decades. Earlier, we used to take mortal remains to a stream near the village. But the road to it goes through a land owned by a villager. Two to three months ago, he raised a compound wall on his land, which has since barred us from going to the stream," said villager Ganpat Choghla, adding, "Because we did not have any other option, we were forced to cremate the body next to the road." The cremation was carried out along the Parol-Bhiwandi road.
There is a crematorium in a neighbouring village, but it is not feasible for everyone to go there. "The crematoriums in the villages on either side of ours are located at a distance. Not everyone can afford the transportation to go there," said another villager. "Even if the neighbouring village allows us to perform last rites there, why should we depend on them for such a basic facility?" he added.
Red flags by some
According to villagers, a plan had been chalked out to build a crematorium near the stream but since land around it belongs to some villagers, they raised a red flag against it. A villager said, "Forty per cent of the villagers don't own any land. The remaining people hardly have an acre or two. Most of the land is owned by a few people, which has resulted in this problem.
Vaibhav Choghla, deputy sarpanch of Majiwali, said lack of funds were to blame. "The problem is not the lack of land, but that of funds. According to an estimate, we need at least R10 lakh to R15 lakh to build a basic crematorium. The Gram Panchayat does not have enough money. We're trying to find out way out of the problem, but right now, this is an issue we're facing."
Rs 10 lakh
Minimum amount required to build a crematorium