Testing the Waters: Rivers Receive Legal Rights

Testing the Waters: Rivers Receive Legal Rights

Rising out of the High Court in the northern state of Uttarakhand came the ruling that the sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers are to receive the status of living entities, giving them the “corresponding rights, duties and liabilities” of a legal person.

The Washington Post reported that in their decision, Judges Rajeev Sharma and Alok Singh cited the example of New Zealand’s Whanganui River, which the New Zealand government recently declared a living entity with full legal rights.

The case in India stemmed from complaints that the governments of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh were not complying with federal government efforts to protect the Ganges, which has already been harmed from a flow of “city sewage, farming pesticides and industrial effluents” entering the waterways.

Despite the noteworthy ruling, The Post quoted a local environmental activist who stated that it alone would not be enough to stop the two rivers’ degradation.

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