Despite High Court order, the practice continues at the site

In spite of a court order in their favour and action by the municipal corporation, residents of Venkatadrinagar in ward 72 of the city continue to suffer the effects of unauthorised cremation in their colony.

The residents have been representing at various fora their problem over the last rites being performed by people from Golla Narayanapuram and Appannapalem. The problem was represented at the Prajavani, grievance redress programme of the District Collector as early as in 2010.

Subsequently, Venkatadrinagar Residents’ Welfare Association had filed a writ petition in the High Court seeking a direction to officials to declare the site being used for cremation as a private site. The site, plot No. 2 of the colony, was given in donation for construction of a temple. The court, while disposing of the writ petition, said that the legal matrix was not in dispute. By virtue of the wish of the donor the property has to be used only for the purpose of constructing a temple and therefore can not be used for burial ground, the court observed. It said that the aspect of the case had to be decided by Commissioner of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation in accordance with law after giving reasonable opportunity to respondent Nos 6 to 9, who were private individuals.

Warning ignored

About a fortnight ago, the Zone Commissioner of GVMC has put up a board stating that cremation or burial in the site was prohibited and violators were liable for punishment. After that a body was burnt during which time the board was pulled out. It was restored later but after another cremation the board disappeared, says president of the welfare association Vasa Satyanarayana.

“When we had tried to take photographs of cremation, the mob warned that they would hurl explosives at us. The people that come for cremation are unruly and often drunk,” says a resident.

When contacted, Zone Commissioner R. Somannarayana said the piece of land was not a notified cremation ground. After the board was put up two bodies were burnt and no action could be taken on the spot. “But we will try to identify people involved in carrying out the cremation in future and initiate criminal action,” he said.

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