Last week over 80 bodies, mostly decomposed skeletons and half-burned corpses, surfaced in the river in Uttar Pradesh after a drop in water levels.
The National Green Tribunal, a court set up to deal with environment grievances, ordered the water resources and environment ministries to explain who should be held responsible for the pollution in the Ganges. The lawyer representing the group said the government must reply by Jan 27.
The Ganges river originates in the Himalayas and spills out into the Bay of Bengal. It is a means of livelihood for over 400 million people, as well as being Hinduism’s holiest river.
Authorities say the corpses in the river are the deceased from poor families who cannot afford 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 riverbanks, and their remains are washed into the river when water levels rise.
PM 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.