City Hall is looking to shut down crematoriums at two different Phnom Penh pagodas, municipal officials said yesterday, in an effort to discontinue all centrally located crematoriums in the capital.
Both crematoriums at Wat Koh in Daun Penh district and Wat Preah Puth Mean Bon in Prampi Makara district will be closed, deputy director of the Phnom Penh Department of Environment Seng Kry said, but the date of their closure is not yet known.
Municipal Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong said City Hall is proceeding gradually since several large-scale crematoriums slated to replace the shuttered facilities in central Phnom Penh’s pagodas are not yet built or operational.
“We will shut down all, but the process will be done step by step as we only have one new crematorium [operational],” the deputy governor said, adding that plans are to build up to three more cremation centers outside the city.
The recent announcement comes on the heels of the dismantling of a crematorium at Wat Lanka in Chamkar Mon district, which was the second facility to be shuttered after Wat Ounalom’s in May.
According to a plan made public in 2004, municipal authorities said all inner-city crematoriums would close and be replaced by four massive electric crematoriums to be located outside the city’s center.
In July, authorities said a new crematorium located at the Russei Sanh pagoda on the outskirts of Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district would begin handling funeral ceremonies.
Ma Theary, chief monk at Russei Sanh, said yesterday that the new crematorium was not operational and only about 90 percent completed. He expected construction to wrap up in November or December of this year.
“It is not used yet,” he said. “This new crematorium could serve a big part or up to half of the people in Phnom Penh.”
Mr Socheatvong said that closing crematoriums in the city was an effort to clean up the foul smells and smoky emissions created from the disposal of bodies in the traditional manner. He admitted not everyone was pleased with the plan but stated overall public support for the strategy was strong.
“We know that some people are happy and some are not, but we would follow the larger amount of people,” he said, adding the municipality is currently resurfacing the road to Russei Sanh pagoda to ease access to the site.