Amid the Coronavirus crisis, the Indian Council for Medical Research on Thursday has decided not to go ahead with Jal Shakti Ministry's proposal to undertake clinical studies for treatment of COVID-19 patients with Ganga water. ICMR has stated that it needs more scientific data. Currently India's COVID-19 tally is at 52,952 cases with1783 deaths.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), an arm of the Jal Shakti Ministry that deal with the rejuvenation programme for the river, had received a number of proposals, including from people and NGOs working on Ganga, to undertake clinical studies for treatment of coronavirus patients with the water, officials said. The proposals were accordingly sent to the ICMR. Dr Y K Gupta, who is chairing the committee for Evaluation of Research Proposals at ICMR stated that porposals need scientific data, proof of concept and a strong background hypothesis which has been conveyed to (NMCG).
On April 28, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) released a report which focused on the impact of the lockdown on the water quality of river Ganga. The report highlighted that due to a decrease in industrial activities and a decrease in domestic wastewater, the quality of water in the river has improved. The report explains that the lockdown has resulted in "overall improvement in water quality of River Ganga especially with regards to increased Dissolved Oxygen (DO) and reduced nitrate concentration".
The Centre is currently planning to introduce the National River Ganga Bill 2020, drafted by Ministry of Jal Shakti to ban the construction of jetties, ports or 'permanent hydraulic structures' on the Ganga unless permitted by the National Ganga Rejuvenation Authority. Terming the Ganga as 'India's national river', the bill aims at creating a management body to supervise the 2,500-km long river stretching from Uttarakhand to the Bay of Bengal. The bill has listed several 'unauthorized activities' which are 'cognizable and non-bailable', that may attract a penalty of upto five years imprisonment and a fine upto Rs 50 crores.