Short of land to bury the dead, China launches exclusive ship to undertake sea burials

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New Delhi | Published: April 9, 2018 4:53:29 PM

A report in The Indian Express said that two of the leaders Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping had chosen to have ashes scattered at sea. Since it was authorised as a form of burial in 1991, the report said that 40,000 people have chosen this option.

China, Sea buria, China sea burialShort of land to bury the dead, China launches exclusive ship to undertake sea burials

China has launched a ship, Guobin 9, exclusive for the purpose of burial. Earlier this week,  the ship undertook its maiden mission in the port city of Tianjin. On its maiden mission, the ship made two trips with 380 crew to scatter the cremated remains of 62 people.

The ship has two decks. The lower one can accommodate 168 people and the upper one has four booths. Sea burials are not new in China. They have been taking place since 90s. But this is for the first time when a dedicated ship has been launched for the purpose of burials.

Wang Dedong, head of Beijing Funeral Service Centre, said that the Guobin 9 sails for a longer time, providing more time to the families and relatives of the deceased persons to say goodbye. The ship will sail two days every week between April and October every year and make two trips each day.

In China, the traditional practice is to bury the dead. But since it covers considerable amount of land, the government has encouraged citizens for cremations. The ashes are collected and then interred in a tomb in the memory of the dead person.

But due to the shortage of land in wake of rapid urbanisation, the government came out with a directive last month to promote smaller graves and also to go for eco-friendly options like scattering ashes over flowers and sea burials. The directive highlighted the urgency of opting other modes of burial, citing limited land supply of land and pollution. It said that Beijing wants 50% of funerals in the country to be eco-friendly by 2020.

A report in The Indian Express said that two of the leaders Zhou Enlai, the first Premier of the country and Deng Xiaoping, a politician, had chosen to have ashes scattered at sea. Since it was authorised as a form of burial in 1991, the report said that 40,000 people have chosen this option. Alone in capital Beijing, 3% of the funerals take place at sea.

Also to promote the sea burial, the provincial governments provide money to those who opt for it. In Wenling, a coastal city, the government gives monthly remuneration based on age to people over 70 who sign a contract for sea burial.

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