x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Sharjah residents welcome crematorium opening after months of delays

Work on Sharjah crematorium is back on track, with the facility scheduled to open within a month after final work is completed.

Work continues at the crematorium for Hindus and Sikhs in Al Juwaiza, Sharjah. It is due to be finished within weeks. Pawan Singh / The National
Work continues at the crematorium for Hindus and Sikhs in Al Juwaiza, Sharjah. It is due to be finished within weeks. Pawan Singh / The National

SHARJAH // A crematorium for Hindus and Sikhs is due to open within four weeks after a seven-month delay.

The launch was stalled while work on the electrical system was finished.

The building is Sharjah's first for Indian expatriates and had been expected to open in February in Al Juwaiza area.

Community leaders said the delays in providing electricity had since been resolved and paperwork finally completed.

"We have permission for the electricity cabling and have received the no-objection certificates, so excavation work will start in a couple of days," said YA Rahim, president of the Sharjah Indian Association.

"The work details have already been marked out and we have been promised electricity as soon as possible by the authorities. It should be all complete within a month."

The crematorium has been built on 10 acres of land that were donated four years ago by Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah.

Initial delays in building work were caused by a lack of funding and the wait for various approvals.

The first phase of construction started last year after the Indian government contributed Dh500,000 and more funds were donated by expatriate Indian businessmen.

"Everyone has been working hard to complete the project and we know how much people require this facility, so we are doing our best to see the work is finished quickly," Mr Rahim said.

Residents say thereis a real need for the crematorium because it is difficult to get permission to bury or cremate someone in emirates other than the one in which they lived.

"It will be a huge relief and consolation for people in Sharjah because so many families have to leave bodies in the hospital or the morgue while they are sorting out formalities about which emirate will take the body," said Joshun Patel, the owner of a grocery.

"Instead of dealing with their grief, families run around to find a space for the body. Even if the Sharjah crematorium takes time, we know it's coming, so that is a relief."

The building, which will have two gas-fuelled incinerators, will be the fourth crematorium in the country, after a multi-faith centre opened in Al Ain two years ago. Abu Dhabi's crematorium opened a decade ago, and the one in Dubai started operating more than 65 years ago.

Many Indians prefer to complete the last rites in the UAE instead of repatriating a body, which is expensive and involves more paperwork. Cremation can cost about Dh3,500, while expenses for sending a body home are about double this.

"Families have stayed here for years and not travelled home, so they prefer to cremate their loved ones here rather than take them back to India," said one Indian expatriate, a manager with an oil company.

"Many have grown up here, study here, get a job and get married here. They want to be cremated here, too."

rtalwar@thenational.ae