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Ganga mission chief admits river was a dumping ground for dead during Covid-19 second wave

Ganga mission chief admits river was a dumping ground for dead during Covid-19 second wave

A new book launched on Thursday has described that the Ganga river was an easy dumping ground for the dead while the nation was reeling from a deadly second wave of Covid-19 since the start of April.

As per a report by The Indian Express, the book titled Ganga: Reimagining, Rejuvenating, Reconnecting provides a chilling account of the pandemic's impact on the Ganga.

The book is jointly authored by two civil servants Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director-General and Puskal Upadhyay, former Director (Finance), NMCG, who have served the cause of Ganga through National Mission for Clean Ganga.

According to the IE report, a section of the book titled Floating Corpses: A River Defiled", the author Mishra took note of how the Ganga became an easy dumping ground for the dead after the number of bodies swelled and multiplied during the second wave.

"As the number of bodies swelled and multiplied because of the Covid-19 pandemic, overwhelming district administrations and stretching the functional limits of crematoria and burning ghats of UP and Bihar, the Ganga became an easy dumping ground for the dead," reads the book.

However, Mishra cited data provided by districts to state that "no more than 300" bodies were dumped in the river and "not the 1,000 plus reported" by a large section of media.

Mishra also admitted that the problem was confined only to UP (between Kannauj and Baliya), and the bodies found in Bihar were also those floating from UP.

The author also explained how the macabre images and stories of bodies being dumped unceremoniously into the river was a traumatic and heart breaking experience for him.

The book goes on to highlight poor Covid management in all riparian states along the Ganga.

It took note of how the poor management of funeral services, miscreants taking advantage of the situation to dump bodies into the river instead of cremating them, and adverse publicity from the media only added to the discomfort and helplessness of the authorities.

He further described how the NMCG's lack of direct power or authority to punish miscreants or to initiate action against those disposing of the dead in the river or burying them on the river banks added to their woes.

The book also refers to how Mishra issued directions to district administrations on May 11.

He went on to explain how he authorized the district authorities to use the funds from the District Ganga Committee to fund dignified cremations in case needed.

The book was launched on Thursday by Bibek Debroy, chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.

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TAGS:Ganga mission chiefRiver gangaSecond wave
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