LAHORE: The Punjab Government’s Shehr-e-Khamoshan initiative that allows people to bury and perform last rites of their loved ones in a peaceful manner is working smoothly. 

There is ambulance service for the transport of the body and mortuary has space for 30 bodies. There are three female and male bathing facilities, funeral prayer section, burial kits containing coffin, mushk, kafoor, arq-e-ghulab, soap and cart for the disabled and senior citizens. The grave is prepared by the authority concerned and there is guarantee of its maintenance. The whole process of burial along with everything costs Rs 20,000.

However, the Punjab Shehr-e-Khamoshan Authority charges no money for burial from those who cannot afford to pay.

This initiative was taken by Strategic Reforms Unit (SRU), Chief Minister’s Office in collaboration with Local Government & Community Development Department in 2015.

Muhammad Rizwan a resident of Allama Iqbal Town is all praise for the project. “I have seen good burial facilities in USA and European countries. It is for the first time in Pakistan that I have seen provision of quality burial service,” he said.

“When your loved one passes away you are so mentally disturbed and if someone helps you in the task of his or her burial. It is a great gesture and the provision of this facility no doubt will be very helpful,” Rizwan was of the view. 

Mrs Faheem Baig from Lahore, also buried her loved one in Shehr-e-Khamoshan. “It is a good service but I believe that there should be a helpline like Rescue 1122. On this helpline people could get all the information. There should also be a procedure wherein we could pay online so that we don’t have to go all the way to Shehr-e-Khamoshan to make payment prior to burial,” she opined.

82-year-old (who wished not to be named) has booked his grave in Shehr-e-Khamooshan fearing that his family would bury him in some other unknown graveyard.

Three model cemeteries have been set up in Lahore, Faisalabad and Sargodha while pending projects are in Rawalpindi, Multan, Sahiwal, Gujrat and DG Khan.

The Authority accepts funds from people who are able to pay in the form of donations. The funds collected through these donations are spent on maintenance of the graveyards in order to ensure maximum facilitation for the general public.

The first 89-kanal Shehr-e-Khamoshan Model Cemetery was established at Kacha Kahna, near Ferozpur Road in Lahore and has been operational since June 2017,

The second Shehr-e-Khamoshan Model Cemetary was established at Chak No.40 NB in Sargodha measuring 80 kanal and has been operational since 8th March 2018. The most recent Model Cemetary was established in Faisalabad at Satiana road on 100 kanal land and has been operational since 28th April 2018.

So far 223 people have been buried in these cemeteries. Free of cost buriials are 60 in number. Total number of unclaimed bodies burial is also 60 whereas 103 people paid for the burials and 79 families gave donations.

DG SRU Salman Sufi said “This initiative addressed the lack of proper burial facilities in Punjab. As existing graveyards have little maintenance and no more space”. 

He said citizens are infuriated and angry with the current burial process due to the exploitation and corruption of the managements of old graveyards.

“To combat these problems, SRU planned to revamp the concept of a cemetery by providing services that ensure the sanctity of death and the dignity of the deceased,” Sufi said.  

“The Shehr-e-Khamoshan Model Cemeteries and Crematoriums initiative aims to facilitate citizens irrespective of any religious, socio-economic or caste-wise distinctions,” he maintained.