Step by step, law by law, the project to allow Greeks to be cremated instead of buried in the country’s cemeteries comes a bit closer to materialization. Thirty years after the cremation alternative to burial was raised for the first time and eleven years after the relevant law, still no Greek has been cremated in the country.
Government lawmakers voted in favor of the bill that allows cremation facilities to be built in Athens. The selected area is in Elaionas, western Athens.
The facility will be build in a plot of some 10 stremmata, the construction is estimated to cost 1,5 million euros. The incinerator will extend to 1,000 sq.m. The project is expected to be concluded in two years.
The Municipality of Athens has chosen the plot which is very close to the mosque currently under construction in Athinon Avenue in Elaionas.
Local authorities estimated that the amortization of construction cost will be in two years. They base their calculations in the fact that some 1,000 deceased Greeks are been transported to neighboring Bulgaria for cremation every year.
While currently the cost for cremation abroad is between 3,500 and 6,000 euros, the cost at Elaionas will be at 500 euros.
The investment will be in partnership of a private enterprise, a tender is expected in the next few months.
years after lawmakers approved the creation of cremation facilities, construction works have not started yet even in one single municipality of those that they agreed from the very first moment. The construction of the facility in Patras is scheduled to begin within 2018. The project does not come forward neither in Thessaloniki whose major had his wife cremated in Bulgaria.
Municipalities cite several bureaucratic obstacles but also pressure from the Greek Orthodox Church.
Big municipalities may manage to proceed in time, smaller municipalities may never construct such facilities. Some also claim that the construction of such a facility may not be worth the investment as they estimate no more than 2,000 cremation per year across the country.
Private enterprises are also allowed to establish such businesses but for the time being the issue remains in the hands of municipalities.
The issue was first raised in 1987 by then Athens mayor Miltiadis Evert.
The law was approved some twenty years later in 2006.
Eleven years later and still those who have expressed their wish for the alternative have to be transferred to Bulgaria.