While the city now has a handful of pet burial grounds, a crematorium has also opened, near Dum Dum.
Opened in the last week of December, the facility has already cremated about 100 animals. Situated near the dumping ground off Belgharia Expressway, the South Dum Dum Municipality Pet Crematorium has two electric furnaces with a trolley on the outside to carry the bodies of animals. It can carry a maximum weight of about 500kg while the furnace coils can reach 800°C temperature.
Besides pets, the service is also open to cattle and other animals and so a crane is on standby to lift and place large animals onto the trolley. A waiting room and toilets are available for mourners.
“When my pet dog died it was just two months before the Lok Sabha elections,” said MP Saugata Roy, who had come for the inauguration. “I cancelled all my rallies and appointments so we could bid him farewell. But to my surprise, I couldn’t find a single crematorium or burial ground in my neighbourhood. We had to drive 10km out of the city where a person allowed his backyard as a pet burial site. It was a traumatic experience and I don’t want anyone to suffer like that,” said Roy.
Urban development and municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim said the idea for the crematorium for animals was the chief minister’s. “We have seen animal carcasses being left to decay at roadsides and canal sides, which is unhygienic. Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) took up this project at a cost of Rs 4 crore. It is spread over 10 cottahs,” said the minister, who also heads CMDA.
The facility is open round the clock and can be contacted at 25602357.
Recycling burial space
Stuffed toys, pet clothes and flowers left as gifts at the pet burial ground in New Town. Brinda Sarkar
The pet burial ground in New Town, in the meantime, has been of help to many a grieving pet family. But the plot has run out of space and the land is being recycled over for more pets.
“A burial ground is bound to run out of space and we are recycling the plots after a year,” said Debashis Sen, chairman of New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) that has built the facility. “We have received several requests from pet owners who want to pay more and keep the space intact for longer but we cannot allow that,” he said.
The 24-hour facility had opened about two years ago and the 160-odd plots got filled up in 22 months. Beloved dogs, cats, rabbits have all made the space their final resting ground and plaques and tombstones have been erected bearing names, pictures and messages from their families.
“Our visiting hours are from 4 to 5pm and people come every day with flowers, dhoop dhuno, toys etc,” said an official of the centre. They don’t allow food as that would attract rodents. “After a year, we inform the families that the space will be recycled and that they may take home their plaques. Some even seek a fistful of the soil that their pets have become one with.”
The New Town authorities have no plans for a pet crematorium. Suchismita Bose of Salt Lake’s BF Block had recently gone to bury her 10-year-old Golden Retreiver Walle there and had found the service helpful. “Of course, it would have been better if they could have retained the pets in the ground for more than a year but this is better than cremating them. The natural tendency of animals is to dig the ground and bury their deceased loved ones so a burial ground seems like the best option for them.”