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Low-cost tombs for the city's poor

LOCAL cemeteries are setting aside plots of land as sites for non-profit tombs for the city's poor families and elderly people without family.

These will be free for the elderly, and between 1,000 yuan (US$143) and 2,000 yuan for needy families. The price is between five to 10 percent the cost of a standard tomb, and non-profit tombs are expected to be promoted to every cemetery soon, said the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Trade Association. Songyinshanzhuang Cemetery in Jinshan District has built 500 such tombs, occupying 500 square meters.

"The tower burial saves land and is environment-friendly," said Chen Xuemei, an official with the cemetery. "We believe the seniors will rest in peace with so many companions."

The Guiyuan Cemetery and Fushouyuan Cemetery in Qingpu District will also build similar tombs. As tomb prices have increased dramatically in recent years, local people have grimly joked that they cannot afford to die.

"The cheapest tomb costs near 20,000 yuan. It's really a great expense," said Shanghai resident Zhang Guoliang, who is now buying a tomb for his parents-in-law.

Officials explained that the price of a tomb rises with land price.

"Besides, it's a Chinese tradition to have a grand tomb and people are willing to spend a lot on tomb decoration," said Wang Hongjie, secretary general of the association.

People can apply to buy non-profit tombs through the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.


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