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City’s largest cemetery to turn into residential quarter
By Van Nam - The Saigon Times Daily
Wednesday,  Jan 5, 2011,21:25 (GMT+7)

City’s largest cemetery to turn into residential quarter

By Van Nam - The Saigon Times Daily

HCMC – Binh Hung Hoa Cemetery as the largest graveyard in HCMC will be replaced by a new residential quarter in the future, and burying activity there will likely be ceased from January 15, said a city official.

The city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment and authorities of Binh Tan District where the cemetery is located are preparing a plan to remove all 70,000 tombs at the burial site, said Nguyen Van Phuoc, deputy director of the department. Phuoc said his department was to submit the plan on Tuesday or early on Wednesday at the latest to the city government, seeking approval for a budget of some VND1.4 trillion (US$71.7 million) for the relocation of all graves.

“On Wednesday, the department will ask the HCMC People’s Committee to issue a decision for stopping the burying activity at Binh Hung Hoa burial ground since January 15,” Phuoc told the Daily on Tuesday.

The removal of all of over 70,000 graves at the cemetery covering some 60 hectares is expected to begin since the second quarter of this year.

According to Binh Tan District authorities, Binh Hung Hoa burial ground had come into existence before 1979. However, the cemetery is now surrounded by neighborhoods of over 300,000 people.

The district said most local people living near the cemetery were still lacking tap-water and were using underground water from drilled wells for their daily activities. Alarmingly, the results of recent tests show underground water around the cemetery have been seriously polluted by organic compounds absorbed from the graves.

Furthermore, air pollution, particularly dust and exhaust fumes from the cemetery, are badly affecting the health of local people living in residential areas in Binh Tan District and Tan Phu District nearby.

According to the environmental department, there are some 40 large and small cemeteries in the city, so the closedown of Binh Hung Hoa burial ground will not affect the normal burying activity of the city in the future.

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