Days after bodies were found floating in Ganga, Bihar sends samples for Covid-19 testing
Days after bodies were found floating in Ganga, pollution control officials in Bihar have sent samples collected from the river for Covid-19 testing. According to state pollution control board scientist Navin Kumar, the tests are being conducted to check whether the river has been contaminated with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) since there were reports of bodies of Covid-19 victims being dumped in Ganga. This comes after the central government took a strong note of the media reports of dead bodies floating in Ganga and called on the Bihar government to focus on preventing such incidents in the future.
"The sampling of Ganga river is a routine thing which we carry out on a regular basis. The pollution board keeps on investigating the quality of water of the Ganga river. But as you know that there were reports of bodies of Covid-19 victims disposed of in the river, so we are conducting tests to check whether the river has been contaminated with coronavirus or not," Kumar told news agency ANI.
At least 71 bodies were fished out of the Ganga river in Bihar's Buxar district last month, after a large number of bloated and partially decomposed bodies were found floating in the river, triggering panic among locals and widespread outrage. Images of corpses drifting down a river which many in India consider holy had shocked a nation already reeling under successive waves of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
The current investigation of the samples collected from Ganga is being undertaken by the National Mission for Ganga under the Jal Shakti ministry, in collaboration with the Indian Institute for Toxicological Research (IITR), Lucknow, which is a laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), state pollution control board, and the district administration.
An expert team collected samples from Ganga on June 1 in Buxar and on June 5 in Patna, Bhojpur and Saran. The samples have been sent to Lucknow for Covid-19 testing, the reports of which are awaited, Kumar added.
Taking a strong note of the "undesirable and alarming" media reports, the central government had on May 17 asked Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to prevent the dumping of dead bodies in Ganga and its tributaries. The direction to state governments to ensure safe disposal and dignified cremation of bodies had come straight from the 'Namami Gange' programme under the Union Jal Shakti ministry.
The 'Namami Gange' mission aims to minimise pollution and amplify the conservation and rejuvenation of Ganga, the national river. However, with the reports of bodies floating in the river and potential contamination of the water as a result, the National human rights commission (NHRC) had issued notices to the Union Jal Shakti ministry, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, after receiving complaints about the bodies.
(With inputs from agencies)