Experts on Wednesday said transmission of coronavirus through water is not a concern after bodies of suspected COVID-19 patients were fished out of the Ganga and Yamuna.
Satish Tare, professor at IIT-Kanpur, said the dumping of dead bodies in the Ganga or its tributaries or sub-tributaries is a serious matter, particularly at a time when the country is grappling with the COVID-19 crisis.
The Ganga and Yamuna are key sources of drinking water for many villages, local bodies along the rivers.
The professor, however, stressed that dumping of bodies will not have a significant effect on coronavirus transmission.
Tare said dumping bodies in the Ganga or its tributaries is not new, but it has come down significantly in the last 10-15 years. Dumping of bodies primarily leads to pollution of rivers, he said.
Even if the bodies of suspected COVID-19 patients were fished out, there is a lot of dilution that happens (during the flow of water). The effect may not be significant, he said.
“If the water is passed for water supply, then it passes through the water supply system. Normal treatment takes care of it, said Tare, who teaches environmental engineering, water quality, and wastewater treatment.
He, however, added that there are patches where people draw water directly from the river. But even during this people do exercise caution.
Tare is also associated with the National Mission for Clean Ganga, the apex body under the Jal Shakti Ministry that deals with the cleaning of Ganga, its tributaries, and sub-tributaries.
On Tuesday, the Bihar government fished out 71 bodies from the Ganges in Buxar district, where these were found floating in the river, triggering suspicion that the abandoned corpses could be those of COVID-19 patients.
According to Ballia residents in Uttar Pradesh, at least 45 bodies were seen floating at the Ujiyar, Kulhadia, and Bharauli ghats in the Narahi area. However, the district authorities did not tell the exact number of bodies found there.
On Monday, residents in the Hamirpur district spotted five bodies floating in the Yamuna, creating a scare that these were of COVID patients. The bodies were later fished out and cremated.