The river Ganga, said to be the cradle of Indian civilization, has been given the status of the "first living entity of India" by the Uttarakhand high court.
The Indian High Court also named two "legal parents" of the two rivers- the director of Namami Gange project for cleaning and rejuvenating the river and the Chief Secretary and the top legal officer of Uttarakhand for protecting, conserving and preserving the rivers and their tributaries, reports the correspondent.
Two of India's most famous rivers have been given the status of living entities to save them from further harm caused by widespread pollution.
A court in northern India has granted the same legal rights as a human to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, considered sacred by almost a billion Indians. The ruling means that the Ganga and Yamuna rivers will be treated as humans and if anyone is found polluting the rivers, it would be equivalent to harming humans.
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As a living entity, River Ganga may have all the rights accorded to a human.
Agreeing with advocate MC Pant, the court cited the example of river Whanganui in New Zealand which has been given such status.
The case came up in court after officials complained that the governments of Uttarakhand and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh states were not cooperating with federal government efforts to set up a panel to protect the Ganges river.
Several Indian governments have spent billions of dollars on efforts to clean the Ganges, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to restore the river to its former glory. "We need not remind the state governments that they are bound to obey the orders passed by the central government, failing which consequences may ensue under Article 365 of the Constitution of India". Similar status has been given to Yamuna, the tributary of Ganga, which, to the despair of courts, has practically become a sewer owing to dumping of untreated sewage and industrial pollutants. In some places, the river has stagnated to the point that it no longer supports fish or other forms of aquatic life.