The Istanbul Greater City Municipality (İBB) has begun efforts to start having deceased residents of Istanbul buried in their hometowns, as authorities have announced that within 20 years there will be no space left in the city to bury the dead.
On average, 77,000 people die in Istanbul each year, with around 30 percent of these people’s bodies transported to their hometowns elsewhere in Turkey, where their funerals are held.
According to İBB Cemeteries Bureau head Dr. Ayhan Koç, the city requires 250,000 square meters of new land each year to meet demand for graveyard space.
“We can decrease this need by burying the deceased in the provinces in which they were born. For the next three to five years this problem might not arise but within 20 years there will absolutely not be possible to find a place in Istanbul to bury the dead,” Koç told the daily Milliyet newspaper.
“A solution needs to be found, and the best solution is to ensure that they are transported to Anatolia. We are engaged in efforts involving burying more than half of those dying in Istanbul in their hometowns,” Koç said, adding that the İBB aims to transport bodies by car, train and plane, and that the expenses will be fully covered by the municipality.
Some iconic cemeteries in Istanbul are in heavy demand, such as the Karacaahmet, Çengelköy, Nakkaştepe, Zincirlikuyu, Ulus, Aşiyan, and Abide-i Hürriyet cemetaries, central areas where securing a grave costs 34,000 TL. Cemeteries in the district of Pendik and Maltepe on the Anatolian side of the city cost 14,000 TL, while those in more distant districts like Tuzla, Ümraniye, and Çekmeköy cost 4500 TL. The price for grave sites in cemeteries belonging to non-Muslim communities including Greeks, Jews and Armenians cost 7,150 TL. The cheapest cemeteries in the city cost as low as 100 TL for a burial site.