Over a 100 bodies have surfaced on the Ganga near Pariyar, between Kanpur and Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
The Centre has asked the Uttar Pradesh government for a report on the bodies found floating in Ganga yesterday.
"I have spoken to the Uttar Pradesh authorities and have asked for details," said Uma Bharati, Union minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation.
More than 100 decaying bodies had surfaced in the river near Pariyar between Kanpur and Unnao. Caught by surprise, the administration had ordered a probe into the matter.
The administration indicated that the bodies were those immersed in the river, reportedly in the hope of salvation. "The receding water in winter had probably caused the bodies to float," Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Unnao Saryu Prasad had said.
"What I have come to know is that due to the flow of water, there was soil erosion on the riverbed where the bodies had got buried. That's was why the bodies floated up," said Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore. "I'm inquiring more into that."
After visiting the spot, BJP's Sakshi Maharaj, the parliamentarian from the area, said he wondered if the bodies were from a hospital in Kannauj.
"Were these people victims of murder? Why hasn't the Chief Minister visited the site? The government should investigate the matter," he said.
"We are trying to do DNA sampling to ascertain identities," said Saumya Aggarwal, the District Magistrate of Unnao. The administration is making arrangements for the cremation.
The Narendra Modi government has launched a Clean Ganga campaign, allotting a whopping Rs 2037 crore for the river's clean-up. But the focus has been on the control of waste and garbage disposal in the river. Environmental organisations have pointed out the need to stop human immersion in Ganga.
"We will provide electric crematorium facilities... People are free to choose. We will respect rituals and make best use of technology," Ms Bharati said today.
In 1987, with the start of Ganga Action Plan, the Supreme Court had declared immersion of dead bodies in Ganga illegal. In 1997, the Allahabad High Court, too, had declared it illegal and said it was the responsibility of municipal corporations to dispose of such bodies.