Confusion over ashes in water

PARRAMATTA Council does not allow funeral ashes to be released in the city's waterways despite the fact thousands of residents believe the last-rite practice is a fundamental part of their religion.

The Environment Protection Authority has said its regulations allow the immersion of funeral ashes into natural waterways but the council remains confused.

"I've been advised that according to NSW legislation, the disposal of anything other than water in our waterways is considered water pollution," Parramatta lord mayor John Chedid said.

Cr Chedid suggested the thousands of Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs in Parramatta should check rules governing their funeral rites with the Environment Protection Authority.

Authority chief executive Bruce Buffier said the authority did not prohibit the funeral rite.

"The EPA is sensitive to cultural practices and personal wishes and does not consider these practices have any significant environmental impact," he said.

Mr Buffier said he supported the "establishment of designated sites" by the council and local temples.

North Parramatta resident Sarbjet Thind, a Sikh, said his family's grief over the death of his mother was exacerbated when he could not get information about where her funeral rites could be held.

"In our religion it is important the ashes are immersed on the same day, when we pick them up from the crematorium," he said.

"I'm very disappointed with [Parramatta] Council. They were not very helpful.

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