Shortage of cemetery plots

TWO organisations are racing to find suitable land in The Hills and Blacktown to set up a Muslim cemetery to overcome the shortage of burial plots.

They are the NSW Islamic Council which looks after Riverstone Muslim Cemetery, the only ground for deceased people in the inner and north-west Sydney.

The other is the newly established Australian Muslim Janaza & Community Services centre at Mount Druitt which recently presented a petition for a burial ground to Blacktown mayor Alan Pendleton.

He said the council was preparing a masterplan which will be considered by the new council after the local government elections.

A spokesman for the NSW Islamic Council, Anjum Rafiqi, said there were only about 400 burial plots left in Riverstone. He said the government recently extended the Muslim burial ground at Rookwood cemetery that they share with other communities to overcome the shortage.

"We're looking for new sites at Box Hill and Hawkesbury," he said. "As soon as we've found a suitable site of 10 hectares we'll contact the government and councils for approval."

Member Abdul Haq said his organisation charged $3000 for a plot in Riverstone because it had to pay $1350 for a government permit.

AMJCS volunteer Osman Iqbal said it could cut burial costs from $3000 to $500 if it had a local cemetery. "It's urgent because we have to bury our deceased within 24 hours."

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