The Allahabad High Court recently addressed the slow progress in the development of cremation site infrastructure across the state, prompting the court to direct the state government to take substantial steps in rectifying this issue. Justices Mahesh Chandra Tripathi and Prashant Kumar expressed deep concerns regarding the inadequacy of cremation facilities in proportion to the consistent population growth.

Highlighting the expanding population and the insufficient infrastructure at cremation sites, the bench conveyed dismay over the plight faced by common citizens who struggle for basic amenities throughout their lives. The Court commented on the irony of the situation wherein despite efforts towards achieving economic growth, the provision of proper facilities at cremation centers remains wanting.

The court’s remarks came in response to a writ plea filed by Rajendra Bajpai, serving as the President/Manager of Shamshanghat in Bithoor, expressing apprehensions about the insufficiency of facilities at the cremation site.

Noting the poor conditions prevalent at crematoriums across the state, lacking essential amenities and adequate infrastructure, the Court, on November 20, issued a detailed order. In this order, the Secretary of Nagar Vikas, Government of U.P., was directed to submit a response indicating the state government’s concrete policy and initiatives concerning the development and improvement of cremation site infrastructure.

In response to the Court’s directives, the Secretary, Nagar Vikas, Government of UP, indicated that the responsibility for maintaining and developing cremation sites in urban areas falls under the jurisdiction of Urban Local Bodies. Conversely, the Panchayati Raj Department, Government of U.P., is responsible for such initiatives in rural areas.

Acknowledging the bifurcation of responsibilities, the Court directed the inclusion of the Additional Chief Secretaries of both the Panchayati Raj Department and Urban Development Department, Government of U.P., as party respondents. This step aimed to ensure their participation in addressing and regulating the maintenance and development of cremation sites across urban and rural areas in the state.

However, amidst these proceedings, the Court expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of progress and noted the severe shortage of infrastructure at cremation centers during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation exacerbated the challenges in properly conducting cremations due to inadequate facilities available at these sites.

Highlighting the urgency of the matter, the Court reiterated its concern about the slow development of essential infrastructure at cremation sites despite the burgeoning population. It emphasized that common people, even in their final moments, deserve access to proper cremation facilities.

As the Court seeks to expedite improvements in cremation site infrastructure, the matter is scheduled for the next hearing on January 18, 2024. The Court intends to gather further responses and actions from the concerned government authorities, emphasizing the pressing need to enhance facilities at cremation sites, ensuring dignified and adequate arrangements for the public, both in urban and rural areas.

This direction from the High Court serves as a critical call for action, emphasizing the necessity for the government to expedite efforts in improving and developing cremation site infrastructure to meet the increasing demands of the growing population, ensuring essential facilities are available for all citizens.

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