LAHORE - The Opposition in the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday raised alarm over shrinking space of graveyards in the provincial metropolis as many have run their course with the increasing population.

The Opposition members also wanted the House to pass a resolution making it binding on the government to provide space for graves to the residents for burial of their dear ones without any fee.

Sadia Sohail Rana of PTI moved the resolution, but the Minister for Law, Rana Sanaullah opposed it on the plea that government was not charging any fee for burial. 

He said that the provision of space for graveyards was mandatory under the law in all the housing schemes.

Upon this, Leader of the Opposition, Mehmoodur Rashid presented receipts to the Law Minister issued by graveyard committees against payments made by the residents.

Law Minister replied that these were non-official bodies and government would take action against them. He said that some people also gave away money in charity to these committees for upkeep of the graveyards, and this had nothing to do with any official fee.

Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal put the motion to vote which was defeated by majority vote.  Earlier, while responding to a question during the question hour, Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government, Ramzan Siddique Bhatti told the Assembly that government had plan to acquire land for four graveyards in the City equal to the size of Mianisab graveyard. The government also intended to set up a graveyard authority to regulate the graveyards, he further stated.

The Opposition staged a token walk-out from the House to lodge protest over absence of Ministers from the Assembly during the question hour. No Minister was present in the House when the sitting started at 3:30pm. Leader of the Opposition, Mehmoodur Rashid also joined the House quite late after the question hour.  Later, when the Opposition leader raised the issue of nurses on the floor of the House, Law Minister said that no nurse would be deprived of her job and the issue would be resolved within one week.