NEW DELHI: Reacting to reports of bodies of suspected Covid-19 victims being dumped in the river Ganga, the Centre has sensitised its agencies towards missing actions on the ground and asked states to carry out risk assessment of infections among people living along the river.
The states have also been asked to stop the practice of burying dead bodies in the sand along the river. Hundreds of bodies have recently been fished out from the river in several districts in UP and Bihar.
While Bihar government has now decided to bear the cost of cremation or burial of Covid victims in all districts along the Ganga or its tributaries, UP will provide ₹5,000 each to families of victims in rural areas along the river. In UP, most of the floating bodies were found in Unnao, Kanpur rural, Ghazipur and Balia while in Bihar, the bodies were found in Buxar and Saran.
Both states have informed the Centre of their decisions in a review meeting on Saturday where the water resources (Jal Shakti) ministry secretary, Pankaj Kumar, is learnt to have done some hard talks over negligence of local authorities. The meeting was held after two back-to-back letters written by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) director general, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, to states, flagging how dumping of bodies in rivers was “grave violation of Covid-safety protocol”.
A Bihar government representative told the ministry that even if the deceased did not have a Covid positive report but had symptoms, the family would be offered support for cremation or burial. The state has, meanwhile, intensified patrolling to prevent further dumping of bodies in the river, especially in sensitive districts such as Buxar and Saran (Chhapra). The local administration is currently using a big net at Buxar to locate and fish out bodies from the river Ganga.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has been assigned the task of overall over-all monitoring, giving guidance to state pollution control boards and to take up advanced analysis in the matter. The Board will also increase the periodicity of testing water quality of the river at all monitoring stations along Ganga and its tributaries.