The river Ganga in Varanasi
The river Ganga in Varanasi | ANI Photo
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New Delhi: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has turned down the Narendra Modi government’s “request” to conduct research on a theory that Gangajal, or water from Ganga river, could possibly cure Covid-19.

Speaking to ThePrint, a source in the ICMR said the agency has refused to get involved as it is focussing on the Covid-19 battle and doesn’t want to waste time on other research amid the pandemic.

The move came after the country’s apex medical research body received a “request” from the Ministry of Jal Shakti to conduct “further research” on a proposal by an NGO, Atulya Ganga, said an ICMR official, who didn’t wish to be named.

In its letter last month, Atulya Ganga had cited the presence of a ‘ninja virus’, called bacteriophage, in Ganga’s water that could cure Covid-19. Bacteriophage is a special type of virus that eats harmful bacteria, the letter said. Covid-19 is a virus.

The NGO asked the government on 3 April to conduct a study on the possibility of this virus acting as a cure. It sent a copy each to the ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The ministry’s National Mission for Clean Ganga, the department administering the Modi government’s ambitious Namami Gange programme, then wrote to ICMR on 30 April requesting a clinical trial.

The ICMR then held a meeting to discuss the idea, but refused to proceed, offering only its “help” to the NGO.

“We had indeed received a letter from the Ministry of Jal Shakti for such research. The experts at ICMR also held a meeting on this matter. Then we asked those proposing this research that you should tell us about hospitals and doctors that are ready and willing to conduct some research on it. We will certainly help them in this regard,” said the ICMR official.

“As of now we are still treating plasma therapy as a trial for treatment for corona (Covid-19), then how can we so quickly accept a virus called bacteriophage, found in the water of Ganges, as a cure? Right now, there is no logic in the argument that the virus found in Ganga’s water can indeed fight the coronavirus disease,” added the official.

However, he added that if the ministry takes an initiative into the matter then ICMR will extend its assistance to it.

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr. Rajnikant Srivastava, ICMR’s head of the Department of Research Management, Policy Planning and Communication, in Delhi and Director of Regional Medical Research Centre, Gorakhpur, said, “A presentation was made after the Jal Shakti ministry’s proposal. The matter is at a very preliminary stage. Nothing has been decided on the future course of action. We will support the Jal Shakti ministry in all the work it does on this front.”

A senior official of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, meanwhile, said there are several special properties in the Ganga river and many people were demanding research on them.

“We sent a letter to ICMR on this issue,” the official, who didn’t wish to be named, told ThePrint. He added that the ministry is aware that ICMR is busy these days.

“It takes many years for such research. Therefore, we should also be patient with our expectations. When they will get time, they will do research,” said the official.


Also read: How India can be a world leader in making Covid vaccine and keeping it cheap too


Focus on bacteriophage

Atulya Ganga member Colonel (Retd.) Manoj Kishwar spoke to ThePrint on the NGO’s proposal to study the impact of bacteriophage on Covid-19.

“We had written a letter to the Prime Minister and the Jal Shakti Ministry in this context. After this, the Ministry of Jal Shakti requested the ICMR that if there is indeed some truth in this fact then further research should be conducted,” he said.

Kishwar said several bacteriophages are present in the water of Ganges, which come “from the higher mountains, to fight such ailments”.

According to the NGO’s letter, various institutions including the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, IIT Kanpur, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow have confirmed the presence of many types of bacteriophage in Gangajal, particularly in the river’s upper stream, referred to as Bhagirathi.

After the letter was sent, the PMO asked the Ministry of Jal Shakti to look into the matter.
The National Mission for Clean Ganga then requested the ICMR for a clinical trial.

The issue was also discussed between the scientists of CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the NGO on 24 April. During this video interaction, the CSIR-NEERI scientists suggested that ICMR should be entrusted with the task of identifying the elements present in Ganga’s water that could be helpful in fighting Covid-19, said sources.

However, India’s chief medical research body that has 21 research centres refused to get involved.

“The ICMR has already asked to conduct medical trials for the effectiveness of plasma therapy. Right now, it is more important to ensure proper treatment of patients with Covid-19 disease. For this, scientists should focus more towards developing a vaccine,” said Professor U.N. Rai, a retired scientist who had previously worked with the CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow.

This report has been updated to incorporate Dr. Rajnikant Srivastava’s comments.   


Also read: Can’t understand research jargon around Covid-19? Here’s a basic primer to get you started


 

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40 Comments Share Your Views

40 COMMENTS

  1. So the cocksure member of said NGO is an ex-military personnel! Huh..
    Shall I keep feigning surprise?

    Fuck it! Colour me unsurprised.

    And while it’s wise of ICMR to not stray from the scientific-method, ya know — unlike other scientific-institutions in past few years?!.
    But it still bothers me unavoidably that now, even Academic Freedom is so endangered that a whistleblower has to worry more about the innovative PR machinery of the regime before standing-up for the Scientific Integrity.
    Ahh… Well! Like a “charnāmrut” aficionado aka neo-“Economy Revitalisers”, I can take solace in the misdirection that: Even the author Mr Sampal is just another-one of those unable to cross the smog of unscientific confusion over the very-clinical nomenclature of the disease.( WHO’s fAuLT!) Whereas, the virus has been, is, and is likely to remain titled as the ‘Part 2’ of SARS-CoV.

  2. In Hyderabad, a Maulana treating Covid 19 , just for Rs.150/-. Huge banners allover roadside. Why don’t you cover it and help the world

    • A Peer* There! FTFY 😊
      Bwahahahahaha!

      Colour me unsurprised. Any evidences gathered for that, though?

      But before that.. Got anything to comment on this story or..? 😏

  3. People don’t have faith in ganga jal. That is why they are suffering. I have in shakti of ganga jal and I am happy. Let those who don’t know power of ganga jal suffer. Har har gange.

    • There is no harm in doing research, we all know Ganga has medicinal properties, look at this people living near Ganga has almost zero% covid 19 cases as Ganges water is in their habit , naturally. People who do not want such kind of research will be deprived of their earning millions if this is done.

      • Bwahahahahaha!

        You do know that’s not a Scientific Method?
        The burden-of-proof is reliant on Colonel director of that NGO and the Ministry which “requested” ICMR with such diversion.

        Ohhh.. Wait! You don’t even understand Poe’s Law!
        S! Forget I ever replied to you or anybody else like-minded.

  4. Do not waste your precious time on such foolish notions. Instead use our intelligent personnel to do something Worthwhile. Thali, taali and diya won’t save us from Corona

    • You dont know anything fool so dont speak any without having the proper knowledge have you reasearched on our holy ganges that you are telling like our indian scientist are the worthless ones who are ignoring ganga that is why till now we have not got any medicine

  5. Just do an experiment. They can serve Gangajal only as drinkable water if rate of recovery increases then it proves that we can use it too.

    • Uh-huh?

      Come again?

      You’re asking for the patients of CoViD-19 to be treated as guinea-pigs? Even those who’re not at deathbed? Because sure AF, it doesn’t line-up with the ethics of human-trials.
      Alrighty, then! Get the waivers signed from all of those who wish to get subjected to your proposed experiment, eh? You must be capable to do that, no?

  6. Mr PM. Please dont make the nation laughing stocks in front of the world,,, we all know the purity of the water with Industries your govt has given licences,,, besides your clapping and candle lights made the situation worse,,, only God will save us and not your hoax, promises and lies,, we are tired and fed up of all your gimmicks

    • <Nothing irrational because, the term vaccine cane into existence due to such research only. Vaccina virus survived people against t Variola zooster, which is a killing virus

  7. Is the Ganga river pure? Even if the water is not polluted, how would it suffice to cure / protect 135 crore people across India, irrespective of their religious beliefs and existing health conditions…. Covid 19 is a pandemic and we have been helping out generously by manufacturing in bulk and supplying medicines to various infected countries… Would it be wise to say that we can export Ganges water to cure 759 crore people across the world or would we not be selfish to cure just the 966 million Hindus in India… Let us think practically and help out generously for what we are acknowledged for globally….

  8. Atulya Ganga Mission must have finance to support the research and it must initiate, establish a research center and start research on its proposal as soon as possible. It is high time to do something better for the society and people. If this research is not started by the proposer means, the proposer, itself has not belief in its proposal.

  9. We have almost reached to treat COVID through गोमूत्र… Just only one step from gangajal to गोमूत्र…. Please hurry up… I appreciate if Ayush Ministry directs ICMR to conduct research, may be we can take scientific advice from Baba Ramdev and Sadhvi Pragya…

    • Gange water has bacteriophage and science has accpeted that. Please search on internet as you are ignorant and trapped by the motive of the article.

  10. What a mind set! Radar cannot penetrate a cloud cover; you can do your cooking over the gas from a drain; Ganesha is the first example of plastic surgery; gobar can block radioactivity; peacock tears are the way it copulates; cow milk has gold particles …….
    We must be laughing stock of the world!;

  11. Bacteriophages kill bacteria. Guess what, corona is a virus. South Asian countries has lower cases anyways. Stop bullshiting and please come back to science or else the world will move further away and we will continue to spiral into a blackhole of ignorance and poverty which will be a vicious cycle.

    • Couldn’t Have Said It Better!

      But when the whole group, across multiple phenotypes — is continually spiralling-down..

      …You do understand the laws of Physics, right?
      It’s nearing the zone of practical impossibility by each passing-time.

  12. Please pardon me. the problem with we Indian is , we are more interested with life in heaven than life on earth. What is worst , there are few who claim to be in direct communication with the Almighty, as if the rest all are too earthly ignorant and misplaced. ..It is this obscurantism which has left no scope for building a scientific temperament…To say , gau mutra or ganges water are cure for covid 19, is not just ridiculous, it is a said reflection on our development….

    • Haha..!

      Couldn’t Agree More! 👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

      You missed one, still!

  13. The quality of river water has undoubtedly improved due to the lockdown. However, without adequate treatment, it is unlikely in most places to be fit for human consumption, much less be the magic potion, after HCQ, President Trump is anxiously waiting for to seal his victory.

    • “Quality of water has improved..”?

      By whom, Sire? According to whom?

      Innumerable, wide-shot photos circulating across the ‘pop-Interweb’ multiverse?

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