Grave problems in Rēzekne

In a development that sounds like it is straight from the pen of Nikolai Gogol, officials in Latvia's eastern city of Rēzekne are struggling with a shortage of officially-sanctioned grave sites and a parallel problem of advance reservations for eternal rest.

Alas, poor Yorick, the most popular cemeteries are filling up fast, with the deceased sometimes extending their post-mortem real estate claims beyond the accepted limits. In other words, their graves are too big.

"People take very large areas for burials. The problem is that the cemeteries are full and there are not so many places," says Aina Kudure, Chief Registrar of the Veremai Parish, which includes the Lejas Ancupanku cemetery.

Under current rules, Kudure says, "the first grave site is free, a reserved grave costs 2 euros 85 cents, and every next grave 7 euros 11 cents."

At present, amendments to binding regulations have been drafted in Rēzekne County Municipality, in order to introduce more stringent burial and grave reservation procedures in all regional cemeteries. In total there are 284 cemeteries in Rēzekne district.

"Passing several cemeteries, I myself have found that a number of cemeteries occupy disproportionately large areas. And there really is a need for tighter control so that this does not happen," says the executive director of the county municipality Jānis Trokša.

In future it  will no longer be possible to grab a grave before the county administration has been visited, an application has been written, and until a responsible official has allocated a specific burial site, in a bid to clamp down on sudden do-it-yourself burials. 

And in a neat end-of-life counterpoint to current incentives for families to have three or more offspring, the first two graves per family will be free but a "one-time rental fee" will be charged for each subsequent reservation for those sleeping the big sleep.

"At the moment the project is estimated to cost €25 to €30 per one reserved grave, but whether we will offer it in the final version for approval, I can not say yet," says Janis Trokša.

It is planned that the new provisions of the cemetery in Rēzekne district will come into force next year. At present, the municipality is waiting for amendments to be approved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, so please don't die until the ministry has provided its Final Judgement.

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