There are 232 cemeteries in Bengaluru, and over 250 members are involved in burial and burning of dead bodies. Day in and day out they maintain and help the citizens bid a decent goodbye to their loved ones. But when it comes to them. They are still lacking.
It has been four years and still their demands for proper wages and regularisation of their services stands nowhere.
To top it all, Three months ago Dinakar who had put in over 30 years of service at the Kalpalli graveyard in Jeevanahalli, Bengaluru East, died. The BBMP failed to give even the basic healthcare services. He developed the severe infection and died.
This decision to close the graveyard gates has been taken by a group of undertakers to exert pressure on the Bengaluru municipality to include 250 undertakers into group 'D' category of municipal workers.
"A representation was given to BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad and Mayor Padmavathi earlier. The BBMP promised that they would first give Rs 17,000 to each person engaged in disposing the dead bodies at 232 BBMP graveyards starting October. The BBMP also has said that they will regularise over 250 undertakers and accord them group D status after a month. If they fail in any of their promises, we will lock all the graveyard and protest," said A Suresh, General Secretary, Ambedkar Dalit Sanghgarshana Samithi.
If you think garbage piling in the City is enough to put Bengaluru in a fix then imagine the sight when in the coming days over 250 undertakers working at different graveyards in Bengaluru will lock the cemetery gates and refuse to bury a dead body.
The sorry state of affairs is that the families who are involved in this profession of disposing corpses and giving a decent burial to the dead are living in isolation and deep suffering. Most of them have no houses and sleep in the graveyard. The undertakers and their family members are prone to infections, snake and insect bites and also attack from hooligans and drug addicts who frequent cemeteries.
The undertakers have no safety while discharging their duty. The BBMP is supposed to give hand gloves, masks and periodical health check-ups but has failed in providing even the basics to these undertakers.
"The BBMP budget is over 7,000 crores and giving life and rehabilitation to 250 undertakers will not even cost Rs 20 crores. It is high time they give us better salaries and also regularise our services, give us health care and security, else, we will lock the cemetery gates and not allow any dead bodies for burial or cremation," warned Sauri Raja, undertaker at Kalpalli and secretary, Rudra Bhoomi Association
There are over 232 graveyard in BBMP limits.
Graveyards like Kalpalli, Shanthinagar, Harishchandra-Srirampura, Hebbal, Ulsoor, KR Puram and Banashankari get over 30 dead bodies every day. If the cemetery is closed for the day over 500 bodies will rot and smell. Going by BBMP's track record of not keeping up promises, Bengaluru will suffer if the undertakers follow through with their warning.