TWO cemeteries in St Joseph are now closed because they are filled to capacity. This was disclosed by Paul Leacock, chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation (TPRC). He told Newsday that the remaining cemeteries which are still operational are rapidly being stretched to capacity.
He said the corporation recently issued a notice warning the public that it was illegal to use private burial grounds without proper authorisation and registering with the TPRC. “With the upsurge in crime, especially homicides, the cemeteries are all stretched now. We are the third largest corporation and also have the largest population by far, which is almost half of the country,” Leacock said. He said Stratford Cemetery is the largest of them all, and there is a part of the land which is unused which is intended for development into a modern cemetery space, creating more space for burial. “Our cemeteries are currently stretched to capacity and two years ago we applied to the Commissioner of State Land to find more land for a new cemetery.”
Leacock said recently there was a burial at the cemetery on Arima Old Road and the corporation had difficulties finding out who was responsible for the burial at the private cemetery. He said after the death of an individual, it must be registered at the TT Registry of Births and Deaths and with the police, depending on how the person died.
“Although this cemetery in particular falls under the corporation, it is a private cemetery and under the Burial Grounds Act, authorisation must be given before any burial can take place there. Our inspector went to visit the site and eventually found out who was responsible for the burial.
“Given the alarming crime rate that we have especially when it comes to homicides, the inspector decided if she could not get information as to who was responsible for the burial, she was prepared to exhume the body to make sure it was a legal burial because we do not want to create any possibility that people are using the space to conduct illegal activities.”
Leacock called upon the public to register all deaths at the TRC desk after they have registered with the TT Registry of Births and Deaths.