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A court in India has ruled that two sacred rivers in India are to be given human status to help preserve the rivers and fight against their pollution. Industrialisation, deforestation and rapid urbanisation have contributed to the heavy pollution of the rivers. The Division Bench (a judicial system in India in which a case is heard and judged by at least 2 judges) comprising of Justice Rajeev Sharma and Justice Alok Singh said “Holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna have been declared to be treated as a living human entities.” Thus, by granting the rivers human status, polluting them would equal harming a human being.
River Whanganui in New Zealand, which is the first river in the world to have been accorded the rights of a human being, was cited as an example.
The court added that these rivers in India were considered goddesses by the majority of the Hindu population and that they played a pivotal role in their spiritual life and for their health and well being. Two state officials have been appointed to be the “legal parents” of the rivers and are responsible for conserving them and representing their rights.
According to activists, this order will accelerate the process of cleaning the rivers.