UK council ignores cemetery plea by NRIs

Pleas and petitions by Indian- origin residents of Leicester that the local council should not extend the main cemetery in the city have been ignored.

Updated: Jul 16, 2010, 00:45 AM IST

London: Pleas and petitions by Indian-
origin residents of Leicester that the local council should
not extend the main cemetery in the city have been ignored,
sparking protests that the extension will lead to lowering of
house prices in the area and people leaving the neighbourhood.

As per the plans by the city council, an extra eight
acres of burial ground is set to be created at Gilroes
Cemetery to stop the city running out of space for graves.
The council plans to use nearby agricultural land it
owns. Leicester is a city and unitary authority area in the
East Midlands area of England.

The council has decided to go ahead with the plans
despite a 280-signature petition from people living in the
nearby Heathley Park estate.

Councillors will be advised to approve the plans for
the cemetery at a meeting on Tuesday.

Residents fear their properties will be devalued,
and have complained the cemetery extension will prevent people
from enjoying "the green space", reports from Leicester say.

Many Indian-origin residents have objected on the
ground that Hindu scriptures say that they cannot live near a
cemetery, but the council said the concerns were outweighed by
the fact that the cemetery is used by 47 different faiths, who
should have the choice of being buried locally.

Condemning the plans, Leicester Hindu Voice spokesman
Mukesh Naker said: "We`re disappointed that the residents`
concerns clearly have not been listened to. Hindus believe
that graveyards have lots of negative energy. It`s likely that
some Hindu residents will decide to move, rather than live
near a graveyard."

Local resident Dr Thirthahalli Girish said in a
letter to the council: "I belong to the Hindu religion and my
religious belief does not permit me to stay next to the
cemetery. My house faces straight opposite the proposed
extension."

He added: "I would be devastated to see and face the
cemetery on an everyday basis if this extension goes ahead.
This would be extremely distressing to me and my family."

Fellow resident Sandip Kaur Badyal wrote: "I
understand they need more space but unfortunately I am against
the extension of the cemetery on to land currently used to
graze horses. I feel that it will be very disturbing to know
and even see burial ceremonies taking place virtually on your
doorstep."

Residents opposed to the plans cited the Human
Rights Act, saying that their right to religious expression
would be impeded.

The council says no other suitable sites are
available in the city.

But a council planning report said: "The purpose of
the planning system is to regulate the development and use of
land in the public interest. It is not to protect the private
interests of one person, or a group of people."

-PTI

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