Residents living near the Ganga River bank in India's Prayagraj city on Sunday (May 16) said hundreds of bodies were being buried at the riverbank every day, which after being washed away float in the river.
Images of corpses drifting down the Ganges river, which Hindus consider holy, have shocked a nation reeling under the world's worst surge in infections.
Although media have linked the recent increase in the numbers of such bodies to the pandemic, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, home to more people than Brazil or Pakistan, has until now not publicly revealed the cause of the deaths.
It has been badly hit by India's dramatic second surge of COVID-19. Health experts say many cases are going undetected in the state's villages.
A senior state official said a lack of funds for materials such as firewood for cremation, religious beliefs in some communities, and families abandoning victims for fear of the disease were among the likely reasons for the surge in dumping.