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HK Plans More Niches for Cremation
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The government is planning to provide 100,000 niches between 2007 and 2013 to cope with the increasing need for cremation by a growing population, the health chief told legislators yesterday.

Answering a question by legislator Albert Ho, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow said that population growth had led to more deaths and hence more cremations. In 2005, out of a total of 38,683 deaths in Hong Kong, 86 per cent of dead bodies were cremated.

It has also been anticipated that the cremation rate would rise further in the coming years, reaching 90 per cent or more after 2010.

Responding to Ho's claim that about one third of the niches in Hong Kong are provided illegally by monasteries, Chow estimated that the annual public demand for niches provided by the government and the Chinese Permanent Cemeteries (CPC) is about 20,000, catering for 60 per cent of all the cremations.

He said the government is actively planning to provide about 100,000 new niches in phases from 2007 to 2013. "In the next two years, construction of a total of some 25,000 new niches will be completed in Cheung Chau, Wo Hop Shek, Diamond Hill and Kwai Chung. The government is also planning to build several tens of thousands of new niches in Wo Hop Shek in 2010 and 2013," he said.

He also said no prosecution has been made against unauthorized columbaria in the past three years.

(China Daily HK edition November 16, 2006)

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