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How many corpses were floating in Ganga, asks NGT

Bodies, many of which are believed to be COVID-19 victims, are seen partially exposed in shallow sand graves as rainwater inundated the site and caused the soil to be washed away at a cremation ground on the banks of the Ganga on June 28, 2021 in Phaphamau, near Prayagraj.

Bodies, many of which are believed to be COVID-19 victims, are seen partially exposed in shallow sand graves as rainwater inundated the site and caused the soil to be washed away at a cremation ground on the banks of the Ganga on June 28, 2021 in Phaphamau, near Prayagraj. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal directed the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to inform them about the number of human corpses found floating on the river Ganga as well as the bodies that were buried on the river in the two states starting from before the arrival of COVID-19 till March 31 of this year.

A Bench of Justices Arun Kumar Tyagi, along with an expert member Dr. Afroz Ahmad, directed the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) and Additional Chief Secretary/Principal Secretary (Health), and Governments of both UP and Bihar to submit the factual verification reports on the case.

The Bench asked the number of dead bodies that were documented to have been floating in the river Ganga and the number of bodies that were buried on the river bed in the said states before COVID-19 in the years 2018 and 2019, alongside, the data present for the post-COVID situation, in 2020, 2021 till March 31 of this year.

The Bench further asked the number of cases where financial support was extended by the governments of the two states for cremation, funeral or the burial of dead bodies, and what steps were taken for creating public awareness, and to promote public participation only to prevent floating of dead bodies in Ganga or their burial in or near the river bed.

According to NGT, they sought to know whether a criminal case was registered and any prosecution was launched against any person for violating the guidelines for managing dead bodies either infected due to COVID, or otherwise. The Tribunal also inquired regarding violations of environment norms and, if so, the details of the remedial measures taken.

Permanent mechanism urged

A journalist, Sanjay Sharma, sought directions to ensure that proper COVID protocols were followed for the disposal of bodies infected by COVID. the Tribunal has heard the said plea.

According to the plea, it directed the respondents to devise permanent mechanisms to regulate the disposal of dead bodies into the rivers, and issue directions to incentivize resort to the crematorium to give effect to the fundamental right of a decent burial and cremation to the deceased. The plea further directed the respondents to ensure a proper and complete health checkup of the people living near the river beds, where the human corpses are buried or set afloat, and their proper treatment should be ensured.


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 3:40:41 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ngt-asks-up-bihar-to-monitor-number-of-covid-deaths-cremations-by-the-ganga/article65420289.ece