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Fuzhou, Fujian province, said it has ordered the immediate removal of hundreds of new burial sites that take up forest land and threaten to pollute a reservoir in the region.
The order, which came after a report by Xinhua News Agency on Friday, said that a large number of illegal graveyards on hills in the outskirts of Fuzhou, breached local interment regulations banning private burial grounds in forests, on farmland or at scenic spots.
The report aroused wide attention as Tomb Sweeping Day, also known as Qingming Festival, falls on April 5 this year. It is a traditional Chinese holiday where people pay tribute to deceased family and friends.
Trees in areas of Nanyang Mountain in Fuzhou"s Changle district were cut down to make way for new graveyards, some of which occupied 100 square meters, the report said.
Several hundred graveyards had appeared in the hills surrounding the Sanxi Reservoir, a national water conservation zone in the same region.
According to the report, heavy rain could wash away unused gravel and soil, left behind after the construction of these graveyards, into the reservoir.
The graveyards named in the report, all of which are concentrated in three counties or districts of Fuzhou, will be removed within 10 days, and trees and vegetation will be restored, Xinhua quoted the municipal government as saying over the weekend.
The government also called for inspections to be launched in other parts of the city and to have all illegal cemeteries cleared out within a month.
It added that it will redouble its efforts to build public graveyards to address the shortage of burial facilities in some rural areas and to meet the demands of the public.
The city"s civil affairs bureau and the natural resources and planning bureau will roll out and enforce new regulations on burial practices.
In recent years, Fuzhou has launched several campaigns aimed at resolving issues within the city"s funeral and interment sector, including illegal private cemeteries, overpriced public graveyards and extremely large graveyards that are excessively decorated.
However, stealth construction of burial sites without permits are still prevalent in rural areas, as violators often sneak in during evenings, rainy days, weekends or holidays to escape observation by the authorities.
A shortage of government-backed burial grounds in rural areas has also fueled the unauthorized burial sites, the local government said.
Hu Minhui, head of the civil affairs bureau of Fuzhou"s Changle district, suggested streamlining the application process for building public graveyards in villages and loosening requirements governing the use of private funds in the sector, he said in a follow-up report.
Hu added that since the second half of last year, nearly 2,000 illegal graveyards in the district have been demolished and filled up.images of rubber band braceletscustom baseball wristbandscustom wristbands no minimumsilicone bracelets custom cheaphorizon wristbands