Mira village of 3,500 is struggling to perform last rites this monsoon season
This isn’t how you would want to bid adieu to your departed loved ones, under plastic sheets or tarpaulin on a pyre made in a forested spot, but residents of Mira Road village Varasaave have no other option. With no crematorium in the area and repeated pleas to the authorities to address the issue going unheard, that’s how they have been forced to conduct last rites during the monsoon.
One of the oldest villages on the Mira Road-Ghodbunder stretch, Varasaave is home to around 3,500 people, who have been living there for generations. And yet, basic facilities continue to elude them.
While conducting last rites anytime of the year is tough for the villagers, as there is no crematorium, monsoon is particularly tedious, with heavy rains extinguishing the fire and the corpse requiring to be set alight again and again.
Residents said that just day before yesterday, when someone’s last rites were being performed, the rain created havoc.
A villager, Lahu Jagan Tambdi, 43, said, “Our generations have lived in this village; I myself was born here. And it’s since then that residents have struggled to give a decent funeral to their departed kin. Politician after politician visited us, made promises, but so far, nothing has materialised.”
“We sent written complaints to the mahanagar palika, the collector’s office as well as local politicians, including the Mira-Bhayander mayor and the corporator of ward 74, but nobody came to help us,” he added.
Another villager said that the land on which they conduct last rites is, in fact, reserved and allotted for a crematorium in government records. “It’s approximately 10 gunthas. In 1984, it went under the forest department. After that, whichever politician or social worker or activist visited the village, they all promised to construct a crematorium on the plot, but here we are, still waiting for it,” he added. Tambdi said local corporator Ravindra Mali, after winning in the corporation election five years ago, had given the villagers in writing that he would build a crematorium on the land, but till date, he hasn’t done a thing.
Mira-Bhayander mayor Geeta Jain admitted to having received several complaints from the villagers but expressed helplessness, citing that it was forestland now. “Taking permission from the department is next to impossible for us. I had told this to the civic commissioner and asked him to do something for the people. I will take up the issue with him again,” she added.
While Mali couldn’t be reached for a comment as his phone was found switched off, local MLA Pratap Sarnaik said, “This is shocking. The villagers never approached me; if they had, this wouldn’t have happened. But now that it has come to my knowledge, I will use my MLA funds and ensure a crematorium is built there.”