Rivers Ganga, Yamuna are now legal entities

In first of its kind decision, the Uttarakhand high court on Monday recognised the Ganga River as the ‘first living entity of India'.

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In first of its kind decision, the Uttarakhand high court on Monday recognised the Ganga River as the 'first living entity of India'. Along with Ganges, River Yamuna has also been declared a living entity. As per the decision, the rivers will now be entitled to all rights available to humans as per the constitution, Jansatta reported. The court also instructed the government to form a Ganga Administration Board for cleaning and better maintenance of the river.

However, this isn't the first incident when a river has been recognised as a living entity. In a similar incident, the New Zealand government had declared 145km long Whanganui River as a living entity. At the time of declaration, the river became the first in the world to be legally recognised as a living entity. It was also granted rights as a human being. However, its not clear if Ganga will be given the same rights as of a human.

[This New Zealand river is now a 'person'!

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat participated in a cleanliness drive on the banks of river Ganga with an aiming to spread the Swaccha Bharat message. Rawat, who participated in the drive in Haridwar, was joined by Cabinet Minister Madan Kaushik. Rawat later told media persons that the purpose was to send a message of cleanliness and inspire people to associate with the Swachh Bharat campaign and Namami Gange mission.

Worst polluted rivers in the world

More than its rich heritage, Ganga is known for its cultural and religious beliefs in India. However, the river has been subjected to huge water pollution, and even finds its place among the worst polluted rivers in the world. The government has taken up big campaigns to curb pollution of Ganga water in recent times.

Image: Devotees taking a holy dip in Ganga river in Allahabad. All photographs: PTI

Third largest river in the world

However, the clean-up plan, known as the Ganga Action Plan, has largely failed to clean the water, attracting a barrage of criticism for government from opposition and stakeholders. The 2,525-km long river, which originates in the Himalayas, and ends in the Bay of Bengal, is third largest river in the world in terms of discharge.

Image: Siberian migratory birds fly over river Ganga during Magh Mela festival in Allahabad.

Attain ‘pristine' status of Ganga

In April last year, India joined hands with Germany to attain ‘pristine' status of Ganga by adopting river basin management strategies used for cleansing rivers like Rhine and Danube of pollutants. Ministry of Water Resources and German International Cooperation, owned by the German Federal Government, had signed an agreement.

Image: A flock of birds during on the banks of Ganga River in Patna.

The German contribution

The project would closely cooperate with other national and international initiatives including Indo-German bilateral projects such as 'Support to National Urban Sanitation Policy and 'Sustainable Environment-friendly Industrial Production'. The German contribution it will be to the tune of Rs 22.5 crore, it said.

The German government, with its experiences in cleaning and rejuvenating European rivers such as Rhine, Elbe and Danube rivers, has been keen to join hands for collaboration with the Indian government.

Image: Devotees arriving to take the holy dip during Gangasgar mela to mark Makar Sankranti held at at the confluence of the river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal, at Sagar Island near Kolkata.

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