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UP, Bihar asked to provide data on bodies found floating in Ganga

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has directed the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar governments to inform it about the number of human corpses found floating in the river Ganga besides bodies buried on the river bed in the two states before the onset of COVID-19 till March 31 this year.

A bench of Justices Arun Kumar Tyagi and expert member Dr Afroz Ahmad directed the additional chief secretary (home) and additional chief secretary/principal secretary (health), governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar respectively to submit factual verification reports on the issue.

“How many dead bodies were documented/found to have been floating in river Ganga and (b) to have been buried on the river bed in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar before COVID-19 in the years 2018 and 2019 and after COVID-19 in the years 2020, 2021 and till 31.03.2022?,” the bench asked.

“In how many cases financial support was extended by the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar respectively for cremation, funeral, or burial of the dead bodies? What steps were taken for creating public awareness and promoting public participation for preventing floating of dead bodies in river Ganga or their burial in or near the river bed,?” the bench asked.

The tribunal sought to know whether any criminal case was registered and any prosecution was launched against any person for violation of the guidelines for the management of dead bodies covid infected or otherwise.

The green panel also asked if there was any violation of environmental norms and, if so, the details of the remedial measures taken may be furnished.

The NGT was hearing a plea filed by journalist Sanjay Sharma seeking directions to ensure that proper COVID-19 protocol is followed for the disposal of the coronavirus impacted human corpses.

“Direct the respondents to devise permanent mechanisms to regulate the disposal of dead bodies into the rivers, and issue directions to incentivise resort to the crematorium to give effect to the fundamental right to decent burial and cremation.

“Direct respondents to ensure a proper and complete health checkup of those living near the river beds where the human corpses are buried/set afloat and ensure their proper treatment,” the plea said.