Uttarakhand Court Gives Human Status To Yamuna, Ganga

Dehra Dun : In an order that will go a long way in cleansing the Ganga and Yamuna, the Uttarakhand High Court on Monday decreed that the two rivers, as also their tributaries, are legal and living entities, having the status of a living person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.

According to reports, a division bench comprising Justice Alok Singh and Justice Rajiv Sharma made it clear that this was being done to ensure the preservation and conservation of the two rivers, besides protecting the recognition and faith of society and as of now they were losing their very existence.

Ganga at Haridwar

According to legal experts, this signifies that if anyone was found polluting the rivers, it would tantamount to harming a human being.  “Just like criminal action can be proceeded under the Indian Penal Code if an individuals right to life and freedom are hampered in any way, likewise action can be taken if the existence of these rivers are harmed in any way”, they contended.

They said, though things will become clearer after a copy of the court’s order is received, but throwing muck into the river would attract the same action as throwing muck on a person or throwing acid in the river would tantamount to throwing acid on an individual and criminal action could be initiated against the person or the individual.

It may be mentioned here Maori people had been fighting for over 160 years to get a living status for the Whanganui rivert, following which recently the New Zealand parliament passes a Bill that recognized the river in North Island as a living entity making it the first natural resource to be given a legal personality.

The river is New Zealand’s third longest and will now be represented by one member from the Maori tribe and one from the Crown. The ruling also means that it will be entitled to representation in court proceedings, while the New Zealand government will contribute $30m to a fund that will be used to look after the river’s health.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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