COVID and Ganga deaths: Dirty politics of Vulture media exposed by scientific report

“The attempt over dead bodies and showing corpses and filming them was to create fear psychosis and defame the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh as the state is going for 2022 polls?"

A new study by scientists of Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR) has found that there was no presence of Coronavirus in any water sample collected during the second wave of COVID-19 from Ganga river locations in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The 120-page study, accessed by the The New Indian, claims that water samples were collected from the 13 locations of Ganga river.

These locations included Kannauj, Unnao, Kanpur, Prayagraj, Mirzapur, Varanasi, Buxar, Hamirpur, Ghazipur, Ballia, Patna, Saran, and Bhojpur.

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These samples were analysed by CSIR and IITR for the same RT-PCR testing as done on humans for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The report concluded:

“Of total of 132 samples (378 sample triplicates/ 1134 technical triplicates) analyzed, none of the sample was found positive for presence of SARS CoV-2 virus.”

According to Aarti Tikoo, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The New Indian, this study assumes significance as it comes after several Western media outlets and Indian journalists had attributed the deaths in UP and Bihar near Ganga river due to COVID-19.

The reporting by Western media had triggered outrage as India’s opposition parties had accused UP’s Yogi government of hiding COVID-related deaths.

S K Barik, director, CSIR-IITR told the New Indian:

“It’s now very clear that there was no COVID virus present in the Ganga river. Our report is based on adequate number of sample size as well as rigorous scientific procedure. … the result is that there was no Coronavirus in the water at all.”

The sampling by the CSIR-IITR was done in May and then again June this year and all the samples tested negative.

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Now, a key question that arises is whether some Indian and international journalists tried to use COVID-19 as an opportunity to defame India and create disturbance within the country.

UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi told The New Indian:

“The attempt over dead bodies and showing corpses and filming them was to create fear psychosis and defame the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh as the state is going for 2022 polls?”

While Surendra Rajput, Congress  national spokesperson, disagreed with the study conducted by scientists.

“The incidents were widely reported and covered by several. Those living by the Ganga too had faced problems.”

The study agrees that disposal of bodies near Ganga took place but it cannot be said that all those people died of COVID as there is no evidence to support this claim purported by international media.

The investigation concluded that in each sampling sites the overall water quality was not affected.

“The analysis report also shows that SARS- CoV-2 was not detected in any of the sites. Thus, it can be concluded that disposal of bodies did not largely affect the water quality of river Ganga though few of the parameters deviated from the standard norms which may be due to other anthropogenic activities.”

Prof. Anand Ranganathan, scientist at the Special Centre for Molecular Medicine at Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU), told The New Indian that he wishes UP government had conducted COVID-19 testing for dead bodies.

“the study exposes the entire propaganda run by several in the country and outside to hinder India’s ability to counter Coronavirus and challenge by indigenous vaccination programme.”

The study has been authored by IITR’s Dr Preeti Chaturvedi, senior scientist, environment toxicology; Dr  Aditya Bhushan Pant, senior principal scientist, and DR K C Khulbe, chief scientist.

This has now been forwarded to National Mission for Clean Ganga, Ministry of Jal Shakti and other Centre bodies.