In the absence of a crematorium, villagers in Murbad taluka are forced to perform last rites in the open. They now want CM Devendra Fadnavis to take note of their plight
A villager points to the space under the flyover where they cremate their dead
For as long as they can remember, people from 52 villages in Murbad taluka have never had a crematorium. Due to this, they are compelled to perform the last rites of their loved ones in the open. The problem, they say, gets aggravated in the monsoon, when rain douses the half burnt bodies and they are forced to light the pyre all over again.
Residents of Fansoli village have been requesting for a crematorium since the last 15 years, but to no avail. To make their collective voice heard, the ex-sarpanch of the gram panchayat decided to forego wearing chappals till their demands were met by the Zilla Parishad. It has been 10 years that he has been walking barefoot. Ravindra Govinda Saraninge, gram panchayat member of the village, said, "When the government talks about development, they only have city dwellers in mind. What about us?
Recently, villagers were compelled to perform the last rites of Palo Wishe in the open
Forget about development, we do not even have space to perform the most important ritual in our village. We are forced to keep the body for days because there's no place to perform the last rites. The last time, we pooled in money and bought a tarpaulin sheet, and almost 25 people were holding it as we lit the pyre," he said. Amruta Birajdar, gram panchayat member, said, "In 2013, we received R6 lakh to build a crematorium, but they [the zilla parishad] took the money back as there was no place available. Since the time I have come on board, I have sent requests at least three times."
Recently, villagers were compelled to perform the last rites of Palo Wishe, an 80-year-old villager from Sonawale, in the open. Jagan Humane, 34-year old resident of Khopivli's aadivasi pada, even learnt to send an email just so that he could reach out to the chief minister regarding the issue. He said, "We are adivasis, which is why nobody pays attention to us. We don't have even proper water supply or electricity. I remember how my deceased friend's body had to be burnt all over again due to the rains." Humane added, "A week ago, I shot a mail to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Thane zilla parishad office."
CEO of the Thane zilla parishad Vivek Bhimanrao said, "From what I know, it can't be that the 52 villages don't have a crematorium, as we provide funds every year. Under the government scheme, it is compulsory to build one. I will look into the matter. Crematorium permission for 40 villages is under process."