COVID-19 may have entered Ganga waters during Kumbh Mela, say river scientists; warn against taking a dip
(PTI Photo)

Lucknow: River scientists at Mahamana Malviya Ganga Development and Water Resources Management Research Centre Varanasi have advised people not to take holy dip in Ganga for at least next 15 days in view of coronavirus entering the Ganga waters from Haridwar during the ongoing Kumbh Mela.

Over 2500 pilgrims, including 40 seers, have tested positive during the ongoing Kumbh Mela. They all had taken holy dips in river Ganga during the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Haridwar.

In a letter written to the Namami Gange Project authorities, the Chairman of the Centre and renowned River Scientist Prof B.D. Tripathi has appealed for issuing an alert for people living in Ganga basin area to stay away from taking bath in Ganga or using its water.

Prof Tripathi claimed that coronavirus spreads faster in water in comparison to surface areas and remains active for a very long time. There is a possibility of the virus travelling from Haridwar to Ganga basin areas endangering lives of the people who come in touch with the infected water.

He said that the research on Gangajal killing the coronavirus is still on at the Centre and there is no scientific proof till date about its efficacy against the deadly virus.

In Such a situation it is necessary for the authorities of the Namami Gange Project to issue an advisory to the people in the Ganga basin area to keep a distance from Ganga.

“To be on a safer side, people should avoid taking baths and using Ganga water for next 15 days or till Kumbh Mela ends. There are chances of them catching coronavirus active in Ganga waters,” warned the River Scientist.

Another River Scientist Dr Sandeep Shukla, who is leading a team of 12 scientists working on how long coronavirus remains active in water, also apprehended that Ganga waters may carry the deadly virus and it is advisable for the people to stay away from the river for a minimum of 15 days, the cycle of the virus.

He claimed that there is no dispute among the scientific community on viruses remaining active longer in water than air and surface. “Our research on its duration is near completion. Once we know how long coronavirus remains active in water then we can take effective steps to prevent its spread through river waters,” said Dr Shukla.

Holy river Ganga covers about 800 kms in plains and enters Uttar Pradesh from Garh Mukteshwar in Hathras and travels through Soro, Farrukhabad, Kannauj, Bithoor, Kanpur, Rae Bareli, Prayagraj, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Ghazipur, Ballia to enter Bihar from Buxar, Patna and Bhagalpur.

Though there is no word from authorities of the Namami Gange Project on warnings of River Scientists, if they are to be believed then the coronavirus crisis is likely to deepen further after the Kumbh Mela ends.

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