Hindustan Times, Pune
Four days after Hindustan Times highlighted the cremation of a villager on a road inside phase three of the Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park at Hinjewadi, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) officially demarcated a plot of 6,000 square feet earmarked for a crematorium and handed over the plot to the Gawarewadi village Gram Panchayat.
The precise demarcation of the plot was done by MIDC surveyor Anil Bandelwar and the plot handed over to the village panchayat in the presence of Pune zilla parishad extension officers GP Shinde and BR Patil among others. The village sarpanch Smita Bhosale, deputy sarpanch Sandip Sathe and other panchayat members were present at the site. A police team was deployed at the site from morning itself as previously, the villagers faced opposition from a neighbouring plot owner.
Angry with the absence of a crematorium in their vicinity, the villager undertook the cremation of a 33-year-old man on July 7 by the side of a road, shocking the neighbourhood. The dramatic visuals of the roadside cremation amidst high-rise buildings disturbed the district officials to take action. The villagers had threatened to undertake the 10th day post-death rituals at the same spot as a part of their protest.
Soon, Pune zilla parishad CEO Daulat Desai, accompanied by block development officers (BDO) Smita Patil and Ganesh Shinde, visited village Gawarewadi and held discussions with the villagers.
On Wednesday, deputy sarpanch Sandip Sathe said, “The demarcation of the plot was very important. Now, the gram panchayat will get a clear idea about the plot and we will immediately fence it. The construction of the crematorium will begin immediately after the budget estimation is completed,” he said.
The villagers immediately undertook the levelling of the land and said the fencing and compound wall construction will begin soon.
Block development officer Smita Patil said it was now the responsibility of the gram panchayat to construct the crematorium for the village, “The district administration will provide whatever assistance is required,” she said.
It was about seven years ago that MIDC had acquired the land for phase three of the IT Park at Hinjewadi and had earmarked a plot for the crematorium. The gram panchayat could not undertake the construction due to violent opposition from the neighbouring plot owner. They were thus forced to take their near and dear ones to the another crematorium four to six kilometers away or undertake the cremation by a road inside the IT Park itself. So far, 45 such cremations had been conducted without any corrective action from the administrators of Pune district.
Villagers thank Hindustan Times
Deputy sarpanch of Gawarewadi Sandip Sathe said, “We thank Hindustan Times for putting pressure on the government through intensive follow-up. The issue was pending since 2010 and no one was coming forward to solve it. Finally, Hindustan Times took up our issue and we will now have a decent crematorium.”