The effects of COVID-19 on the Ganges River

The Ganges, also known as the River Ganga, is one of India's holiest rivers. Most Hindus believe that dipping their bodies in the Ganga river will purify their souls. Ever since the second wave of the covid-19 has struck during the spring, the river also became an exhibit for the administration failures and fraud. Kumbh mela, a Hindu religious festival in northern India that drew millions of pilgrims during the coronavirus's second wave in April, turned out to be a "coronavirus super spreader event,". Around 100,000 positive reports were allegedly falsified as a result of this event. By March, nearly 380,000 people had died. Nearly 100 bodies were discovered floating in the Ganga in Bihar, causing widespread panic. Following this, there was an unexpected increase in the death toll, as well as daily positive reports.

(Kumbh Mela 2021: Maha Shivratri, Haridwar)

There is no place to bury the dead today, and there were people who could not afford the wood to cremate their kin and had to find solace by burying them near a sacred place. Due to a shortage of a place to bury the bodies, people were simply leaving them in the river, contaminating it. The river level is rising now that the monsoon season has arrived, as is typical of every monsoon. We might not have known about this tragedy if it hadn't been for the weather. Rain in early May swollen the Ganges, tossing corpses to the river's surface and onto its banks. They washed dirt from the banks, exposing the buried bodies. This rain also revealed the governments' colossal failure to strengthen rural health or ensure adequate vaccines. However, at the start of the covid-19, the entire country was locked down as a result of it. Fortunately, the quarantine had a positive impact on the river and the environment. Having followed the eight-week nationwide clampdown due to the pandemic, the Ganges river has shown signs of rejuvenation and a significant improvement in many parameters. Since industrial units and commercial establishments were closed, only a negligible amount of industrial wastewater was discharged into the river, polluting it. During the lockdown period, most districts in the Ganga basin experienced 60 percent more rainfall than usual, resulting in increased discharge in the river and further contributing to pollution dilution. Now that we've seen both sides of the river; if only we stick to the guidelines imposed to overcome this pandemic, we can make things go from bad to better.

(Picture of the Ganges River after Lock Down)

Author- Navya Bhardwaj

Edited by- Sowmithaa Shri