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Tuesday 16 July 2019
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[UPDATED] No rest IN PEACE

Angela Gay-Persad, former Iere village cemetery keeper commenting on the closure of the cemetery. Photo by Lincoln Holder
Angela Gay-Persad, former Iere village cemetery keeper commenting on the closure of the cemetery. Photo by Lincoln Holder

FOR over a year, the dead have not been resting in peace at the Iere Village Public Cemetery, where major landslips have caused cracks across several graves. In addition, the stench from beneath is affecting residents in the area.

As recently as two weeks ago, someone was buried at the cemetery, although numerous complaints had led the Princes Town Regional Corporation to deem it unstable and order it closed months ago.

Apart from the smell, people have complained of not being able to find the graves of their loved ones because of the shifting earth, and are calling on the authorities to save the cemetery by building drains and retaining walls.

Talks are ongoing to identify a new plot of land on firmer ground for a new cemetery. The cemetery, at Naparima/Mayaro Road in Princes Town, has been officially closed for almost a year because of the land movements, which are continuously changing the landscape of the graveyard.

Over the years, many graves have caved in. Recently, a stench began coming from a grave near Corial Road, and it was covered with a truckload of sand, residents said.

Former cemetery-keeper Angela Gay-Persad, 81, and other residents suggested proper drains and retaining wall should be built to save the cemetery.

BAMBOO UPSIDE DOWN
Gay-Persad said years ago, bamboo trees held the land together, but county workers chopped them down. Laughing, she said: “One day an engineer and a team came to plant back bamboo trees. These people were planting the trees upside down. When I called the councillor at the time, Lutchman Seecharan, he thought I was joking.”

She was the cemetery-keeper from 1985-2010. Her daughter took over from her up to last year, when the corporation decided to close the cemetery as a precautionary measure.

“Only those with allotments are burying,” Gay-Persad told Newsday. “If anything is to happen to me, I would like to be buried there also. My father died in 1985 and was buried there. In 2012, I buried my husband next to him. My mother and brother are also buried.”

Another resident Joseph Gazee, 76, said that about four years ago, the boards from a buried coffin surfaced. The body had already rotted. “I did not go to see it,” he said. “But people say it was just the boards from the box.

“I plan to go there myself when my time reaches. My father and mother were buried there many years ago. I cannot remember the exact spot. “There was a funeral about two weeks ago,” he added.

PLEASE,DON’T DEAD
Suresh Ramdath, who lives obliquely opposite the cemetery’s entrance, offered another solution. “I am begging my friends and family not to dead. The cemetery closed down, so where am I to bury them when they dead? In the back of my yard? The nearest cemetery is at Mt Stewart.
“Someone needs to build drains and maintain them. We also need a wall and that would solve the problem.” Ramdath said he has lived in Iere Village since he got married 45 years ago. He said he too has been trying to stop the land movement.

Pointing to an overgrown area, Ramdath said: “It had many graves in that area, but they went down.I planted some trees to try to save the cemetery. Last week the corporation put up a new sign to say the cemetery closed.”

Chairman of the Princes Town Regional Corporation Gowrie Roopnarine told Newsday residents must use alternative cemeteries and the corporation is looking for state land in the area for a new cemetery.

“We cannot allow people to be buried there any more,” he said. “It has been closed for some months and there is no way we can allow people to continue to use that cemetery.”

Roopnarine said people who bought plots in the cemetery want the opportunity to continue burials. “But we at the corporation have to be very responsible as well,” he said.

Rural Development and Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein yesterday said he intends to liaise with the chairman and other officials from the corporation and the ministry to determine the best way forward.

This story was originally published with the title "Moving Iere graveyard closed" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


THE Iere Village Public Cemetery has been closed because of land movements, and residents are calling on the authorities to save it by building drains and retaining walls.

For almost a year, the cemetery, at Naparima/Mayaro Road in Princes Town, has been officially closed, although burials there continued up to two weeks ago.

Over the years, many graves caved in and many people do not know the exact spots where their loved ones are buried. Recently a stench began coming from a grave near Corial Road, and it was covered with a truckload of sand, residents said.

Former cemetery-keeper Angela Gay-Persad, 81, and other residents suggested proper drains and retaining wall should be built to save the cemetery.

Gay-Persad said: "Years ago, bamboo held the land together and county workers chopped them down. One day an engineer and a team came to plant back bamboo trees."

Laughing, she continued: "These people were planting the trees upside down. When I called the councillor at the time, Lutchman Seecharan, he thought I was joking.

"A wall and a drainage system can save this cemetery."

She was the cemetery-keeper from 1985-2010. Her daughter took over from her up to last year, when the corporation decided to close the cemetery as a precautionary measure.

"Only those with allotments are buying," Gay-Persad told Newsday. "If anything is to happen to me, I would like to be buried there also. My father died in 1985 and was buried there. In 2012, I buried my husband next to him. My mother and brother are also buried."

Another resident Joseph Gazee, 76, said about four years ago, the boards from a buried coffin surfaced. The body had already rotted.

"I did not go to see it," he said. "But people say it was just the boards from the box.

"I plan to go there myself, when my time reaches. My father and mother were buried there many years as ago. I cannot remember the exact spot.

"There was a funeral about two weeks ago," he added.

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