IIT Kanpur professor seeks complete ban of burial of bodies near the banks of Ganges to prevent COVID-19 contamination.
The city's premier institute, IIT Kanpur, has taken up the task to probe and study the impact of immersion or burial of COVID-19 infected bodies in water and soil. This decision has been taken in wake of the discovery of mass graves on the banks of River Ganges in Rae Bareli, Unnao, Kanpur, Fatehpur and Kannauj. It ripples the possibility of widespread contamination of water bodies and land due to increased viral load, which IIT-Kanpur experts suggest might still be active.
Virus may be washed but not destroyed, warns IIT Kanpur Professor
The Indian Institue of Kanpur has discussed the issue of rampant burial of COVID-19 infected bodies near the bank of River Ganga at the NMGC (National Mission for Clean Ganga) level. It will now conduct a focused study to assess the likelihood of coronavirus poisoning of water and soil, if the bodies were, in fact, COVID-19 positive. Professor Vinod Tare, an advisor to the NMGC from IIT Kanpur has suggested, "Immersing a Covid body in Ganga would wash the virus, but it won't be destroyed. You need different agents such as heat and others to destroy the virus."
A faculty at IIT-K's Environmental Science Department, Professor Tare has been a strategic and significant part of all top panels formed to rejuvenate and clean the Ganges. The professor, in light of the pandemic situation, has sought a complete ban on immersion or burial on the riverbeds. He has emphasized that the government should make arrangements to ensure the prevention of the same.
It has been noted that graves found in Kanpur, Unnao and Kannauj in the past few days were shallow- as bodies were buried no deeper than 3 feet. This has magnified the fear that these may be washed over once the river swells during the monsoon. Professor Tare has raised an appeal to the people to stop the practice of dumping bodies near river beds to avert the chance of another disaster.
District Police to set up alternative cremation arrangements
The Police Commissioner of Kanpur, Aseem Arun, on the other hand, has assured that alternative arrangements would be made to conduct proper cremation of COVID-19 victims, if concerned family or guardians cannot afford the cost. The state government too, has set up a unit of State Disaster Response Force, one platoon of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and jawans from river police, to patrol the river on boats to surveil and prevent immersion of bodies in the Ganga.
-With inputs from IANS