Uttarakhand HC grants `living entity' status to Ganga, Yamuna

The Uttarakhand High Court on Monday recognised River Ganga as a living entity, a status that gives the holy river the same status of a human being and allows courts to intervene in any wrongdoing against the river.

Besides Ganga, which is one of the largest rivers in India and considered to be the holiest river and holds a high place in the mythology of India, the court has accorded similar status to river Yamuna.

Recognising a river as a living entity means granting it the same legal rights as a human being.

New Zealand's Whanganui River is the first river ever to be recognised as `legal person'. Earlier last week, a similar ruling was passed in New Zealand when its parliament passed a bill declaring 145km long Whanganui River as a living entity, becoming the first river in the world to be legally recognised as a living entity and was granted the same rights as a human being.

The new status means if someone pollutes rivers Ganga and Yamuna, the law will see it as harming a human being.

The court also directed the state government to form a Ganga Administration Board for cleaning and better maintenance of the river.

Earlier in the month, the court came heavily down upon the central and state government for doing "nothing concrete" to clean the river.

After wasting efforts on reviving a lost river Saraswati, the court observed that the governments, neither at the centre nor in the states, did take any effort on maintaining Ganga which if given proper attention will once again flow in its full glory.

"The Ganga should be saved for the generations to come," the court added.

The Executive Committee of the National Mission for Clean Ganga had recently approved 20 projects, 13 of which are in Uttarakhand, worth Rs1,900 crore to be swiftly implemented in Uttarakhand, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.