In a bid to address the poor condition of graveyards in the city, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has come forward to provide facilities and protect about 150 graveyards from unethical activities. BBMP has taken a decision to construct toilets and reverse osmosis (RO) plants to provide drinking water to the families that have been living inside the graveyards for decades. The BBMP will also construct about 200 houses for the identified traditional graveyard workers, a long-pending demand of these families.
The step comes after Mayor G Padmavathi, Chief Manjunatha Prasad and Joint Commissioner Sarfaraz Khan recently visited graveyards in the city.
Along with the construction of houses, toilets and RO plants, the BBMP, in association with social welfare department, will be issuing health cards and will take care of education of the children living inside graveyards.
The traditional graveyard workers have a long history of not coming into the mainstream of the society. They were paid about Rs 500 per month until 2000, this was later hiked to Rs 1,000.
A Suresh, State Secretary, Dalita Sangharsha Samiti, said, “About 90 per cent of these traditional workers in graveyards belong to Schedule Caste community and their families have traditionally been living there and doing the same work since 1960s. They are deprived of basic opportunities in the society. They live in places where their health is at risk. They could not get proper education due to lack of confidence. And, if I may say so, their lives were always at risk. They have been attacked by miscreants many times.”
“The graveyards in the city have become the den of unethical activities like prostitution and drug trafficking as people do not really come near the graveyards in the night. As these activities involve dangerous people, these people cannot live peacefully inside in the graveyards,” Suresh added.
Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, BBMP, said, “We have taken a decision to construct houses, toilets, RO plants and we will issue health cards and provide education for their children. I recently visited a few graveyards and was amused by the way a kid spoke to me in English. This means they are capable and interested to come into the mainstream. We will soon come up with all these facilities for them. Also, they will be paid Rs 17,000 per month.”
Speaking about the security of these traditional graveyard workers, Khan said, “These places have become dens of prostitution and drug trafficking. Thus, we will appoint more security guards to prevent this problem inside the graveyards. We will also approach the police department requesting them to increase patrolling near these areas to prevent these activities,” he said.
A Suresh, Dalita Sangharsha Samiti, said, “Although the BBMP has prohibited the construction of tombs in graveyards, many people bring their own contractors or workers to construct the concrete tomb. Many graveyards do not have any space for burial now. Thus, the BBMP has to take action against them,” he said.