30 April 2021
Mavallipura landfill, 30 kms north of Bangalore, will be used as an open air crematorium for those passing away due to Covid-19. This order has been passed by the BBMP Commissioner Mr. Gaurav Gupta, IAS, claiming he has powers to order under the Disaster Management Act 2005 and Epidemic Diseases Act 1897. Municipal laws require civic authorities to prepare sufficient cremation or burial facilities. But BBMP has given scant attention to this fundamental requirement, despite public demands for long.
A landfill is simply not a place for “disposing” off near and dear ones. But that is the exact term (dispose) used by Yelahanka Joint Commissioner in response to a representation made by ESG and Dalit Sangarsh Samithi two days ago appealing agains this decision. This decision was taken without any consultation with the villagers of Mavallipura, or really anyone at all. Therefore, a fervent appeal has once more been made to BBMP urging senior officials to find worthy alternatives to conduct sacred rituals to part with the dead and to find spaces where the grieving aren’t put through further agony by having to cremate their dead in a landfill.
The Mavallipura landfill stinks and is full of noxious and easily combustible gases and toxic liquid discharges. Thereby it is not in the least manner the place for cremating the dead, and is in fact a high risk location for such an act.
Analysis by ESG of the Disaster Management Act 2005 and Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 reveals that the laws do not permit any designated authority to violate norms required under other laws, and most certainly do not allow for the transformation of a landfill into a cremation ground. We also find that the decision to turn the Mavallipura landfill into a cremation ground would be directly violative of the Aircraft Act, 1934, and Aircraft Rules 1937, as it exposes flight movements in abutting Yelahanka Air Force base. Moreover, the provisions of Water (1974) and Air (1981) Pollution Control laws, Solid Waste Management Rules 20016, and various other laws relating to land use planning and social welfare, require statutory approvals for such transitions, and these cannot be sidestepped by claiming overriding powers under the Disaster Management Act, for such powers do not exist.
This decision is also in blatant disregard of directions of the Principal Bench of Karnataka High Court in WP 46523/2012 (c/w WP 24739/2012) which held that Mavallipura landfill is to be bio-mined, and the idea of turning it into a crematoria was never imagined.
Considering the distressive emotive status of those who are bereaved, ESG and Dalit Sangarsh Samithi has appealed to BBMP and Karnataka Government to not pursue with groslly erroneous decision.
The entire world has been afflicted with COVID. But nowhere has a landfill been used to cremate loved ones. We must all work together to ensure there is dignity and grace in conducting final rites of the unfortunate departed, and in a place appropriate for such terribly sad occasions. It has to be a place worthy of a sacred ritual.
BBMP’s decision to set up the open crematorium on the Mavallipura landfill has also received wide media coverage. Some of the news article links have been shared below:
BBMP to open crematorium next to Mavallipura landfill, residents protest by The News Minute
BBMP to turn Mavallipura landfill into crematorium by The New Indian Express
Note to BBMP: Drop plan to cremate dead in landfill by Bangalore Mirror
Work begins on cremation ground at Mavallipura by The New Indian Express
Coverage by Bloom TV Kannada
News Report in Malayala Manorama
On 19 May 2021, Learned counsel for BBMP categorically stated that no cremation is taking place in Mavallipura as alleged by the petitioners in WP No.46523/2012. News coverage of this matter can be read below.
No Crematorium at Mavallipura Landfill by Bangalore Mirror