Treaty of Nanking

Shanghai has designs on space-saving tombs

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2007, 12:00am


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Shanghai will launch a design competition for tombs less than one square metre in size today to promote smaller graves in a city where land supply is tight.

Results of the competition will be announced next year, at the time of the Ching Ming Festival.

Shanghai Funeral and Interment Association chairman Wang Hongjie, who has organised the contest, warned yesterday that demand for grave sites would outstrip supply if people did not change their ways.

He said Shanghai could run out of cemeteries in 10 years.

'People's preference on building graves as big as 1.5 square metres made the situation more acute,' Mr Wang said. 'The law allows them to do so, but from the perspective of tight land supply, it is better they build smaller tombs.

'We hope the people understand smaller tombs do not mean cheaper tombs. The graves will still be pretty and refined, although smaller.'

He said the government would continue to supply land for cemeteries but the authorities also needed to provide land for other uses, so competition was keen.

'We hope more people will change their minds, so we're organising a design competition,' he said.

After two years of promoting smaller tombs, 20 per cent of graves follow the one-square-metre model but the rest are still large.

The association hopes this will increase to 60 per cent, but has not set a target date for achieving that goal.

Its data shows that Shanghai has 3,000 hectares of land designated for cemeteries, but only 800 hectares are vacant.

It expects the number of people dying every year will increase from 100,000 to 160,000 in the next five to 10 years due to an ageing population.