NGT asks govt. to explore alternatives to traditional cremation

February 02, 2016 06:28 pm | Updated 06:28 pm IST - New Delhi

The National Green Tribunal has directed the Union Environment Ministry and the Delhi government to initiate programmes to provide alternative modes of cremation of human remains, saying the traditional method of burning wood emitted hazardous pollutants in the environment.

A bench headed by Justice U. D. Salvi said there was a need to adopt environment-friendly methods like electric crematoriums and use of CNG and change the “mindset of the people”.

“The issue involves question of faith and circumstances in which the people live, ... It is, therefore, the responsibility of the men who lead, particularly religious leaders, to steer the faith in a direction so as to change the mindset of people practising their faith and make them adopt practices which are environment-friendly.

“It is also the responsibility of the government to facilitate the making of the mindset of the citizens as well as to provide environment-friendly alternatives for cremation to its citizenry,” the bench said, directing authorities, including civic bodies, to educate the public in this regard.

The green panel said the traditional means of cremation caused adverse impact on environment and dispersal of ashes in the river led to water pollution.

“Religions of the world, therefore, conceived of different methods for disposal of the dead on the basis of their theology and the circumstances in which the believers lived. Where there was plenty of wood, the individuals thought of disposal of their dead by burning with wood, but where there was scarcity of wood the individuals buried their dead,” it said.

The NGT was hearing a plea by advocate D .M. Bhalla who had said that cremation of humans by conventional methods added to air pollution, therefore, alternative modes of cremation needed to be used.

Bhalla contended that cremation of human remains by traditional method involving wood has serious impact on the environment as “the forest cover is sacrificed and obnoxious gases emanated from the burning of human mortal remains pollute the air.”

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