Seeking alternatives to niches and burial plots

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 May, 2012, 12:00am


Transforming cremated remains into remembrance diamonds is just one of the options available to tackle the shortage of burial plots and niches in Hong Kong columbaria.

The government is promoting sea burials and offers a free boat service for anyone wishing to commit their loved-ones' ashes to the sea for what is described as 'a sombre and dignified send-off'.

Since a ban on sea burials was lifted in 2007, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said the number of applications for sea burials had increased fourfold from 160 applications in 2007 to 661 last year.

The service is one of several being promoted by the government as it attempts to address the shortage of columbaria.

Around 90 per cent of the 42,000 people who die every year in Hong Kong choose to be cremated and there is currently a waiting list of 12,000 waiting for niches.

A departmental spokesman said a new public columbarium at Kiu Tau Road in the Wo Hop Shek Cemetery is due to open this year.

Together with niches provided by the Board of Management of Chinese Permanent Cemeteries, this will provide more than 120,000 new niches up to 2016.

It has also identified 24 potential columbarium sites in all 18 district council areas.