IndiaБs special environmental court has criticised the government for its failure to curb river pollution, a lawyer petitioning the court has said, after scores of bodies surfaced in the Ganges river. Last week more than 80 bodies Б mostly decomposed skeletons and half-burned corpses Б surfaced in the river in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after a drop in water levels. Their emergence has reignited concerns among environmentalists over the uncontrolled practice of body disposal in the Ganges by Hindus, who consider the river to be sacred. On Monday the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a court set up to look at environmental grievances, ordered both the water resources and environment ministries to explain who should be held responsible for the pollution in the Ganges. БThe court said that it was really very unfortunate that the pollution levels are increasing and told the central government to do something about it,Б said Gaurav Bansal, a lawyer representing a group of environmentalists petitioning the NGT. БThe government has to reply by 27 January. Б
The 1,600 mile (2,500km) Ganges river, which originates in the Himalayas and spills out into the Bay of Bengal, is a means of livelihood for more than 400 million people, as well as being HinduismБs holiest river.
Millions visit places along its banks, such as the sacred city of Varanasi, to cremate their dead and scatter their ashes in the river. Others bathe in the Ganges in an act of ritual purification, believing the river cleanses them of sin and frees them from the cycle of rebirth. Authorities say the corpses in the Ganges are the deceased from poor families who cannot afford to buy enough firewood for cremation and are forced to immerse the half-burned bodies of their loved ones in the river. Unmarried women and children are often buried in shallow graves along the riverbank, and their remains can be washed into the river when water levels rise. Bansal said at least 3,000 bodies were recovered from the Ganges annually, yet the government had remained a Бmute spectatorБ to the health risks of cremations and burials along its banks. The Ganges is considered to be the countryБs most polluted river, tainted by industrial effluents, sewage and waste from human settlements built on its shores.
IndiaБs prime minister, Narendra Modi, who represents a constituency in Varanasi, has pledged to clean up the river as part of a broader push to harness scarce water resources and improve public health. Scores of decaying dead bodies have surfaced in India\’s sacred Ganges river, as dogs, crows and vultures hacked away at the corpses. reported on Wednesday that more than 100 bodies had surfaced in the river between Kanpur and Unnao districts in the northern Uttar Pradesh state. \”There are few bodies that have been found on the Periyar bank of the River Ganges. I have asked the police and my staff to probe it,\” Unnao district official, Suraj Prasad, said. \”Action will be taken after the probe how the bodies came into it. It could be that some bodies were submerged after the death. They came on the back due to low water level,\” Prasad added. Officials do not suspect a crime, and instead believe the dead were given water burials. It is Indian custom not to cremate unwed girls, and many poor people cannot afford cremation. Local residentsPblamed the state and federal government for the floating bodies. \”The environment is being polluted and it is a very shameful thing.
Both the federal government and state government are responsible,\” resident Alok Dikshit told the Reuters news agency. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected to represent the 3,000-year-old riverside city of Varanasi, has pledged to clean up the ganges, as part of a broader push to husband India\’s scarce water resources and improve standards of public health andPof public health and hygiene. However, previous attempts to clean up the river, including introducing flesh-eating turtles to devour the charred remains of the dead cremated on its banks, have failed due to a lack of planning or coordination. bathe in the Ganges in an act of ritual purification,Pbelieving the river cleanses them of sin and freesPthem from the cycle of rebirth. Despite its important role in Hinduism,Pthe 2,500km river, stretching from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, is tainted by industry and the settlements along its banks, which quickly turn the clear waters from the Himalayas into a murky, frothy brown downstream.