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     FrontPage Edition: Thu 24 March 2005

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17,300 graves in Choa Chu Kang Cemetery to be exhumed

Source: www.nea.gov.sg

17,300 Graves in Choa Chu Kang Cemetery to be exhumed in June 2006

Graves located in 2nd oldest block of Chinese cemetery - Chinese Cemetery Block 2
In line with a 1998 government policy to limit the burial period for all graves to 15 years, the National Environment Agency (NEA) began exhuming graves in the oldest blocks of Choa Chu Kang cemetery in December 2004.
The second phase of this exhumation programme will commence in 15 months time and the NEA would like to call on those who wish to claim the remains of their next-of-kin buried in this section of the cemetery to do so early.
With limited land available, it becomes necessary to extend the lifespan of Singapore's only cemetery currently in use to help to cater for future burials. Choa Chua Kang cemetery is only 318 hectares in size and will be used up by 2013 at the current burial rate without the 15-year bury-in policy.
The 17,300 graves from Chinese Cemetery Block 2 that will be exhumed in this second phase of the exhumation programme - Phase 2(a), in June next year date back to between 1954 and 1971. Please click here to see location of these graves and how to make a claim.
NEA will publish newspaper notices to alert the next-of-kin of those buried in the affected section. The notices will be published in The Straits Times tomorrow on 18th March and in the Lianhe Zaobao on 19th March 2005. Next-of-kin can use the notices to make their claims.
In addition, signs will be displayed at the cemetery to indicate the graves to be exhumed under Phase 2(a). During the coming Qin Ming festival, NEA officers will also distribute pamphlets and the necessary forms on site to visiting next-of-kin.
The officers will be stationed at the affected block starting from 19th March - more officers will be deployed over the weekend. Information about the exhumation will also be posted on the NEA website. (Please see Annex B for more information about making a claim and about the exhumation process.) Update on 1st phase of the exhumation
Since announcing the 1st phase of the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery exhumation programme in March 2003, NEA has received 1508 claims for graves located in the Chinese Cemetery Block 1, where the graves date back to between 1947 and 1961.
No claims have been made for graves located in the Hindu Cemetery Divisions 1 to 3, which is the other cemetery block to be exhumed under Phase 1. Graves in this block date back to between 1946 and 1953.
Of the 18,000 graves in Phase 1, 13,600 graves or about 75% were issued free-of-charge mostly because there were no claimants for these deceased when they passed away then, in the 40s and 50s. Many of these graves do not have headstones and there have been few visitors. Only 187 graves in this section have been claimed.
We have so far registered 1321 claims for the remaining 4,400 graves in Phase 1. The claim rate based on the 4,400 graves is 30%, which is comparable to the 20% claim rate for the 1940s and 1950s graves in the Bidadari Christian Cemetery.
Exhumation of Phase 1 will be completed next year by February 2006. All unclaimed graves will be exhumed, the remains cremated and kept for three years before they are scattered at sea.

Source: National Environment Agency News Release 17 Mar 2005

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