Chennai, Oct 14: After it shut doors for fresh burials about 30 months ago due to lack of space, the more-than-a-century-old Kilpauk Cemetery has come out with a Multi-Tier Vault System in concrete to receive more bodies.
Though this concept is in vogue in Kerala and Maharashtra, this is for the first time the system is being introduced in Tamil Nadu.
Constructed by the Madras Cemeteries Board (MCB) which manages the three major cemetries in the city-- Quibble Island in Santhome and Kasimode Cemetry in North Chennai being the other two-- the new facility would become operational next month, MCB Secretary G Jothi Paul and Treasurer S Bosco Alangar Raj told the sources.
After the 105-year-old cemetery was closed due to lack of space in April 2005, as an alternative measure, the MCB favoured construction of an electric crematorium exclusively for Christians.
But it had to give up the move as it did not cut much ice among the substantial Christian population. Instead it hit upon the novel idea. Explaining the operation of the vault system, Dr Bosco said it was constructed on a 5,000 sq ft area at a cost of about Rs 40 lakh. It contained 450 vaults spread across three blocks.
Each block had 150 vaults (75 on either side with each measuring 8 feet x 2 feet) with a well in the centre to dump the remnants when the vault was re-opened after four to five years for reuse.
The wells in the three blocks had vent pipes at the top for any poisonous gases to escape. After inserting the coffin in the vault, they were also planning to spray some chemicals on the body besides some lime to ensure it got decomposed early and the vault became ready for fresh burials in three to four years.
The system was constructed in an year's time without damaging any of the 50,000 to 60,000 graves on the sprawling 16.5 acre cemetery.
''It was constructed on an unused area,which had a lot of vegetation. We removed it, levelled the area and constructed it,'' he added.
Most of the Christians in the city have welcomed the new system as they were running from pillar to post to bury the bodies after the Cemetery was closed.
Dr Bosco said there was no question of religious sentiments being hurt as the Christians felt at last they got some place for burial.
''They can always come during anniversaries and conduct prayers in front of the vault,'' he added.
On an average, the cemetery received 60 bodies a month, he said and added the three blocks were expected to fill up in six months time after it was opened next month.
''Meanwhile, we are expecting the Government to come to our rescue. We have already identified some lands in the city suburbs for construction of cemeteries and multi-tier vault systems to meet the growing needs,'' he added.