Updated: May 29, 2021 8:47:30 am
The Uttar Pradesh government was aware that the practice of dumping dead bodies in rivers was prevalent in the state, even before the visuals of decomposed corpses floating in the Ganga during the current wave of the pandemic emerged on social media.
This was conveyed by a senior UP government official to the Centre during a meeting on May 15, held under the chairmanship of Pankaj Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti (MoJS) with the officers of UP and Bihar.
The meeting, held through a video conference, was called to discuss the follow-up action on the May 11 advisory issued by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) to states, asking them to “immediately stop” the dumping of dead bodies in Ganga and its tributaries.
During the meeting, Rajnish Dubey, Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development), Government of Uttar Pradesh, informed that the practice of disposal of dead bodies in the rivers is prevalent in central and eastern regions of the state, according to records of the meeting.
“He further informed that the practise of dead body being disposed in the rivers is prevalent in two particular stretches in central/eastern U.P. and the epicentre of which is in Kanpur Unnao region in central U.P and Banaras-Ghazipur area in eastern U.P.,” the minutes, which were circulated this week, say. “It was informed that Western districts have not been reporting such incidences while they are more in central and eastern part of the UP mainly from Kannauj to Balia.”
While no data on the dead bodies found in the Ganga was shared by UP officials at the meeting, Bihar officials informed that the bodies have come floating from the Uttar Pradesh side and 71 dead bodies were found in the river.
Anand Kishore, Principal Secretary (Urban Development), Government of Bihar, told the meeting that the state Government has put a big fishing net along the river bank to trap the bodies in the river.
Sources said that the both states were told that the dumping of dead bodies into the river Ganga and the burial of the same along the banks of the river should be “immediately” stopped and prevented.
It was decided in the meeting that there should be prompt and safe disposal/cremation of the spotted dead bodies in the river Ganga or buried on the banks of river Ganga as per the Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines, sources said.
The records show that the Jal Shakti Secretary asked the states to flag the incidences of dumping of dead bodies at the highest level.
“The Chair further remarked that it may not be ruled out that such incidences of people dumping dead bodies in the rivers/ lakes/ ponds or other water bodies may be occurring in parts of other States/Union Territories in the country and therefore, it warrants to be flagged at the highest level so that the concerned authorities/local bodies/panchayats are instructed and/or sensitized to effectively utilize infrastructure of crematoria/burial ground for cremation/burials of dead bodies instead of consigning/throwing them into rivers or other water bodies,” the records of the meeting say.
It was also suggested that specialized institutes such as National Institute of Virology, Pune and National Chemical Laboratory may be associated for testing of Covid-19 in water samples, show the records of the meeting.
On May 12, NMCG Director General Rajiv Ranjan Mishra had written to the Chief Secretaries of five states – Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal – asking them to issue “specific directions” to the concerned district administrations, local bodies and police authorities.
The previous day, the NMCG had issued an advisory to all 59 District Ganga Committees and asked them to take “necessary action” to address the issue of floating dead bodies in the river and submit an “action taken report” within 14 days.
“It has been brought to the notice of the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) that bloated and decomposed bodies have been reportedly found floating along the bank of rivers causing shock and fear among the public,” the advisory had said.
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