GUANGZHOU: South China's Guangdong Province will set up 1,902 "ecological cemeteries for public welfare" by 2010.
"Establishing ecological cemeteries for public welfare will be a key point of the funeral and interment management of the province," Yang Huawei, director of the Guangdong provincial civil affairs department, said.
"And as their name suggests, they will not be profit-oriented."
For the Pearl River Delta region and other plains regions, columbaria (vaults that hold the ashes of the cremated) rather than graveyards, will be used as they take up less land, Yang said. And in mountainous and rural regions, ecological cemeteries will be encouraged.
The official said each cemetery in a mountainous or rural region will cover an area of no less than 60 mu (4 hectares) for areas with a population of more than 30,000 people; no less than 50 mu for an area with a population of between 20,000 and 30,000 people; and no less than 30 mu for an area with a population of fewer than 20,000 people.
The columbaria in the Pearl River Delta region and other plains regions will also offer complementary facilities, such as good access roads, car parks and reception rooms.
Yang said that both the ecological cemeteries and the columbaria will charge reasonable management fees.
The ecological cemeteries will provide an appropriate way for rural people to deal with the ashes or the remains of the dead, he said.
He said the cemeteries and columbaria will be located so as to minimize the impact on the environment.
Statistics indicate that as of the end of May, Guangdong had already set up 115 ecological cemeteries and columbaria.
Peng Peng, a researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said setting up ecological cemeteries for public welfare would help stop the speculative purchasing of tombs and the random spreading of ashes and burial of human remains.
"Many people, especially in the Pearl River Delta region, have purchased tombs for speculative purposes. Some of them sell for as much as 500,000 yuan (about $66,000)," Peng said.
(China Daily 08/21/2007 page5)