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Wuhan govt moves to reduce cost of funerals

[ 2010-11-17 11:22]     字号 [] [] []  
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The government of Wuhan, Hubei province, has promised to build more cheap cemeteries amid mounting complaints about costly funeral and interment services.

According to the regulation on funeral and interment management passed on Monday, the government will restrict the development of commercial cemeteries while promoting the construction of social welfare cemeteries.

All cemeteries developed in Wuhan after 1992 are commercial ones and both of the city's two public welfare cemeteries were switched to commercialized operation. Local residents thus only have access to commercial funeral and interment services.

As the country's housing prices have risen to a record high level, grave prices have also risen.

"The lowest price in our cemetery park is 8,900 yuan ($1,340) per square meter, the middle-class price is about 25,000 yuan and the deluxe tomb will cost hundreds of thousands of yuan," a manager surnamed Li in Wuhan Guiyuan Cemetery Company told China Daily on Tuesday.

Li added that the proprietorship will last 20 years after the full payment, and then 20 yuan should be paid each year as the rent fee.

The per capita disposable income of Wuhan residents last year was 18,385 yuan.

Lu Xinhai, a professor of land economics with Huazhong University of Science and Technology, said "burial ground is different from other lands and it should not follow the market price".

The government should take more actions to satisfy the public need for low-cost funeral and interment services, he said.

The newly passed regulation stipulates that government should encourage social donations for public welfare cemetery construction and give priority to land allocation. It also requires commercial cemeteries to give 30 percent of their total capacity to low-cost interment services.

The regulation also limits the size of graves to no more than 1 sq m each, and guarantees free funeral and interment services to the city's impoverished people.

Environmentally friendly types of funeral and interment, such as sea burial and tree burial, are also encouraged, according to the regulation.

"It is quite good manners to ease the burden for ordinary people," said Xiang Deping, dean of the sociology school of Huazhong Normal University.

Wuhan is not the first city to relaunch the public welfare cemetery in China.

The Beilun district of Ningbo, a seaport in East China's Zhejiang province, has provided 805 affordable graves to families with low incomes since Oct 26. It also urged all cemeteries in the district to guarantee that 30 percent of their capacity be low cost.

So far, 30 such graves have been sold in the district, the Qianjiang Evening News reported on Tuesday. And the 7,800-yuan graves are more popular than the 4,800-yuan ones, as people still want the best within their price range, a cemetery staff worker said.

Yu Kun, a Wuhan resident, said he welcomed the policy but also worried about the implementation.

"How much it will be, who are qualified to buy? All the details are still missing from the regulation," he said.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Wuhan govt moves to reduce cost of funerals

Wuhan govt moves to reduce cost of funerals

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.