NEW DELHI: A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Centre and other authorities to form a committee to ensure dignified disposal of bodies of COVID-19 victims while referring to recent reports of floating corpses in the river Ganga in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The plea has sought directions for constituting a three-tier committee at the central, state and panchayat, and the rural and municipality levels to look after the disposal of the bodies.
Petitioner Vineet Jindal has claimed in his plea that disposal of bodies of COVID-19 victims in rivers could have a devastating effect on the drinking water supply of people residing in cities and villages situated on the river banks, and there is an apprehension of transmission of diseases as well.
It is respectfully submitted that the dead bodies of COVID-19 affected persons are being buried on the banks of rivers.
Sand covering the bodies is blown away by strong winds, exposing the decomposing bodies, said the plea filed through advocate Raj Kishor Choudhary.
The petition has arrayed the Centre, the National Mission for Clean Ganga, the governments of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and the pollution control boards of these two states as respondents.
It has sought a direction to the authorities to remove all such bodies and restore the ecology of the riverbeds.
The plea has also sought to declare the Ganga riverbed an ecologically sensitive area and hence, be protected and preserved.
It said that directions should be given to the authorities concerned to provide safe drinking water to people living near river banks so that they do not use contaminated water.
The plea has sought directions to the authorities to immediately take appropriate steps to either conduct door-to-door COVID-19 test or organise medical camps for tests in such areas where bodies were found along the river banks so that infection may not spread to others.
It has also sought directions for taking appropriate steps to vaccinate people residing adjacent to the river banks of the Ganga.
The plea said many poor people do not have the resources for a proper burial and the authorities should be directed to take strict action against those who charge money in the name of performing last rites at crematoriums and graveyards.
It said that in order to ensure that dignity is upheld during handling of bodies, the cremation/burial ground staff must be sensitised about proper handling of the body.
The plea said necessary safety equipment and facilities should be provided to the staff at cremation and burial grounds so that they can perform their duties efficiently and without any fear or risk.