Govandi’s Rafi Nagar cemetery now officially open | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Govandi’s Rafi Nagar cemetery now officially open

Mar 06, 2024 07:12 AM IST

Rafi Nagar cemetery in Govandi reopened after closure due to undecomposed bodies. Burials resumed, with no space left, new graveyard in progress.

Mumbai: Nine months after the Rafi Nagar cemetery in Govandi was shut owing to the incidence of partially undecomposed bodies, the burial ground was officially thrown open on February 27. Burials had resumed at the cemetery around two months ago, but an official notice was pasted following requests from local residents, said the medical officer of health (MOH) of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s M East ward.

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The Rafi Nagar cemetery is one of three burial grounds in the Govandi area catering to a large population of Sunni Muslims, the other two being the Deonar cemetery and the Bainganwadi cemetery.

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Faiyaz Alam, an activist and resident of Govandi echoed the medical officer, saying the cemetery was accepting bodies even before the official re-opening notice was pasted. “We didn’t have a problem with the cemetery opening. But just as there was a notice intimating its closure, there should have been on about its reopening. So, we approached the MOH, and the notice was pasted,” he said.

A person involved in the management of the Rafi Nagar graveyard said the problem of undecomposed dead bodies being found on digging the graves for new burials was no longer present. “The soil has turned, and we are taking care to keep a layer of soil over the older graves, so bodies buried previously are not unearthed,” he said. There was little space left in the graveyard, however, and it would be full soon, he added.

Partially undecomposed bodies are also found occasionally at Deonar Kabrastan, the other main graveyard. Abdul Rehman Shah, who is involved in its management, said, “We have space left for three more months only, as we get six to seven bodies every day on average. Now that the Rafi Nagar cemetery has been opened, it might buy us another month.”

The MOH, however, denied these concerns, saying there was no danger of Govandi running out of burial space in the near future.

Meanwhile, work on setting up a new graveyard beside the existing Deonar cemetery, as directed by the state’s urban development department (UDD) in January 2024, is ongoing. The 5,242-sq metre plot allocated for the cemetery was reserved for a temporary transit camp under the slum rehabilitation scheme. The transit camp has been demolished, but further work is still awaited, said Shah.

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