It was closed seven months back due to lack of space; locals unhappy as partly undecomposed bodies still being found
The grave of a woman buried at the Deonar cemetery on Thursday
The BMC reopened the Muslim cemetery at Deonar on Thursday, even as partially decomposed bodies continue to surface there. It had been closed for the past seven months due to lack of space. BMC had briefly opened the Rafi Nagar cemetery on Wednesday but closed it for burials again after finding more partially decomposed bodies.
The only burial at Deonar Sunni Kabrastan, until the time of this report, of a 68-year-old woman, was around 6 am on Wednesday. In late July, officials had attempted to reopen the cemetery but chose to keep it closed for a while longer. The decision followed the discovery of partially decomposed bodies on the premises, similar to an incident at the Rafi Nagar graveyard.
Both cemeteries, however, have been accepting minors and are open for visitors. “The Deonar cemetery was closed last year when it reached full capacity. We waited for the bodies to decompose before considering reopening. Although some partially decomposed bodies remain, we are confident they will completely decompose soon,” said Dr Sanjay Phundre, medical officer of health for the M-east region.
The Deonar cemetery's trustee, Abdul Rehman Shah, informed mid-day that the situation there wasn’t as severe as at Rafi Nagar. “The issue here was found only in some graves,” he clarified.
But locals are not entirely content with the decision to reopen the cemetery as partially decomposed bodies continue to be discovered. Furthermore, residents want an additional cemetery to accommodate the ward’s growing population. “I have sent a note to the chief engineer to expedite the identification of an alternative cemetery plot. We are also working towards gaining advanced possession of another plot,” said DMC (Zone V) Harshad Kale.
While some residents had alleged that partially decomposed bodies were found due to poor soil quality, Kale affirmed that the soil underwent testing, yielding satisfactory results. The bodies were found partially decomposed, likely due to the use of high-quality body bags during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kale added.