Due to severe economic hardships, high unemployment rates, and rampant inflation, the process of burial has become increasingly challenging for individuals belonging to the modestly well-off and middle-class segments of society.
The impact of inflation has even extended to the privileged class, creating hurdles for them when laying their loved ones to rest. The cost of coffins has surged from 500 to 1500 rupees. Similarly, the price range for various types of caskets has ballooned from 2,000 to 15,000 rupees. To add to the strain, gravediggers have also raised their fees for digging graves.
The prevailing dire economic circumstances and the escalating inflation have rendered it virtually impossible to sustain a life in a region where impoverished individuals struggle to secure two meals a day. Regrettably, the burden of dying has now added further distress to families.
Amir Siddiqui, a resident of Peshawar, shared that the recent surge in inflation, spanning just a couple of months, has made arranging funerals an arduous task. The cost of a basic cloth-covered coffin has surged to 5,000 rupees, while a fabric-covered coffin can now reach up to 10,000 rupees. Notably, the price of a coffin has surged from two thousand to fifteen thousand rupees, and the range for caskets has widened from 10,000 to 25,000 rupees. Even a decent wooden casket has become increasingly expensive.
Additionally, grave digging and site preparation have become equally demanding. In Peshawar, gravediggers now demand 15,000 rupees for digging a grave, and the expense of gravestone installation or cementing the grave has skyrocketed to 25,000 rupees, placing it well beyond the reach of the common man.
For transporting the deceased, the district administration has to hire buses. However, this arrangement places an additional financial burden on the families of the dead, who must bear the expenses for the hearse, ambulance, tents, windows, funeral refreshments, and other associated costs. According to traders engaged in the funeral industry in areas such as Mandi Beri, University Road, and Peepal Mandi in Peshawar, the prices of all these items have surged due to inflation.
A confidential source from the local government of Peshawar has revealed that affording the funeral vehicle has become a formidable challenge. While citizens often require such transportation, they are unable to meet the associated costs.
Despite efforts to minimize charges, the steep hike in petrol prices has made it increasingly challenging to cover expenses. In Peshawar, the local government charges 2,000 rupees for each pre-booked funeral within their jurisdiction. However, it is observed that when people call to book a vehicle, many either decline to pay the 2,000 rupees or request a reduction due to financial constraints.