Karimnagar: The ‘Anthima Yatra-Akri Safar’, a unique Re 1 funeral programme of the Karimnagar Municipal Corporation (KMC), took off in the town on Sunday with Mayor S Ravinder Singh launching the initiative by personally attending the funeral of one Macharla Lalitha.
Though the KMC authorities announced that the scheme would be launched on June 15, they could not do so since no death was reported in the town on Saturday. With rising cost of funerals, the civic body decided to help the poor by performing the final rites for free. Though performing of last rites of the poor is also the responsibility of the urban body, KMC decided to collect Re 1 to avoid legal hurdles.
After a thorough study about the ratio of deaths per day in KMC limits and the average expenditure in different religions and communities, the authorities planned the initiative by allocating Rs 1.50 crore. Besides two rathams (vehicles) to carry bodies, it was decided to purchase two freezers by spending Rs 10 lakh. Carpus fund with an amount of Rs 50 lakh was also maintained to buy wood. The KMC constituted a separate body to execute the programme without any hindrance.
To mark its launch, Mayor Ravinder Singh along with KMC staff participated in the funeral of Lalitha at Bhavaninagar, 27th division. The Mayor also carried the bier. He said performing a funeral was a social responsibility and service to the God. An average Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 was spent on each funeral.
Right from bamboos to preparing the bier to buying firewood for ‘antyesti’, everything was provided by the corporation. It also arranged for a band. Irrespective of religion, caste and community, funeral of all needy people would be performed by KMC for free, the Mayor said. A separate bank account was also opened to accept donations for the initiative from philanthropists.