Dying is expensive in Mizoram where wooden coffins burn a hole in the pockets of poor families. Now, NGOs have appealed to political parties contesting the November 25 polls to create awareness about inexpensive coffins made of bamboo which is available in plenty in the state.
The Young Mizo Association, a NGO which helps in coordinating social functions and in conducting funerals for poor families, have been providing free bamboo coffins to those who cannot afford the wooden ones.
"Whenever we hear that someone poor has died and the family doesn't have the money to buy a coffin, we provide cheap bamboo coffins free," YMA general secretary Vanlalruata said.
"There is hardly any mass production of bamboo coffins which can bring down prices," Vanlalruata said. The price of a wooden coffin in the Christian majority state is upwards Rs 4000 depending on the variety and design. A bamboo coffin, in comparison, costs just Rs 1500.
But lack of awareness and shortage of government subsidy for manufacture of bamboo coffins is stopping its mass production, which is a dampener for the sale of the cheaper variety.
According to Vanlalruata, bamboo coffins are being produced in coordination with the National Bamboo Mission.
In last two financial years, only 70 bamboo coffins per year have been produced.
"From these figures you can understand the sorry state of bamboo coffin production in the state. We hope that whichever party comes to power should seriously take up the issue of bamboo coffin production on a large scale," said Vanlalruata.
With all political parties keeping development of the bamboo industry as a major component of their poll promises, NGOs working for the poverty-stricken hope that they would create awareness about cheap bamboo coffins. According to officials, it is the lack of funds that has halted mass production of bamboo coffins.
"We are trying to manufacture cheaper bamboo coffins.In the next financial year we have plans for 100 such coffins. Raw material is not a problem. There is no mass production due to unavailability of funds," Conservator of Forest and MD, NBM, Lalthangliana Murray said.
For the production of bamboo coffins, a variant of bamboo ply is