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Last week, disturbing images of dead bodies floating down the Ganga river, which Hindus consider holy, surfaced.
Such sightings have been reported from the various parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Reports about how families are now being forced to bury their dead on the riverbanks of the Ganga river due to lack of space in crematoriums and rising firewood costs have also surfaced.
Taking note of it, the Centre, on Sunday, May 16, directed Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to prevent dumping dead bodies into the Ganga river and its tributaries. It noted that dumping of dead bodies and partially burnt or decomposed corpses into the Ganga has recently been observed and said that is "undesirable and alarming", reported Business Today.
Now, the Uttar Pradesh government has directed district officials, senior police officials, and Panchayati Raj officials to ensure that 'Jal Pravah', the practice of dumping bodies into the river after death, must stop. The state government has also directed these officials to provide funds to low-income families to cremate their family members.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, on Sunday, May 16, asked the district magistrates to ensure that ₹ 5,000 is being provided by the government to low-income families. This amount is to be used for the last rites of unclaimed bodies or those from poor families.
To ensure that there is no dumping of bodies into the rivers, the CM ordered the State Disaster Response Force and Provincial Armed Constabulary to post teams along major streams of rivers. He also pointed out that dumping of bodies and animal carcasses in rivers causes pollution.
In a letter to the officials, state Chief Secretary RK Tiwari flagged the issue of corpses being dumped into the Ganga. "At several places, bodies have been recovered from rivers. It must be ensured that bodies are not floating in rivers," states the letter, reported The Indian Express.
The letter states that if bodies are found floating in rivers, they must be cremated with respect. It further adds that there is a possibility of these bodies being infected with COVID. "There is a possibility these will pollute the rivers and are also likely to spread the infection among people," the letter added.
It also directed the officials to draw up a plan to stop 'Jal Pravah'. Meanwhile, municipal commissioners have been asked to form committees to ensure that cremations are performed according to rituals and bodies are not dumped into rivers.
The Uttar Pradesh government has been criticised for its handling of the pandemic. Earlier, the UP government had threatened legal action against those spreading rumours about its COVID mismanagement. It has also filed some cases in this regard.
Last month, a heart-wrenching incident, a video of a man begging cops not to take away oxygen cylinders from a private hospital in Agra, went viral. The man's mother had been admitted to the hospital with COVID. The state's chief minister has time and again denied that the situation in his state is out of control.
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