Rivers’ Living Entity Status Reported Dead.
On 20 March 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court, in an attempt to protect the Yamuna and Ganga rivers, considered sacred by millions, had said that the rivers cannot be harmed and should be parties to disputes over them. The High Court ruled in favour of a public interest litigation against the state for inaction in clearing encroachments on the banks of the Yamuna. The BJP government of the hill state then appealed against that verdict in the top court, stating that it was ‘unsustainable in law.’ “Let me be very clear that we are not against according of living entity status to the two holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna,” Uttarakhand minister Madan Kaushik had said in May. “How can the chief secretary here be held accountable if the river is polluted in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand or Uttar Pradesh?” Kaushik said, adding, “We just want an opportunity to put forth our views in the Supreme Court.” He was unhappy though with the ambiguity regarding the accountability of damage done to these rivers. The Supreme Court on 7 July 2017 suspended the earlier judgement on the Ganga and its longest tributary, the Yamuna. The state government said that given that the rivers run through different states, it is for the central government to frame policy on protecting them. “There is no dispute that river Ganga and Yamuna and other tributaries in India support and assist both life and natural resources and the health and well-being of the entire community. But only to protect the faith of society, the rivers cannot be declared as legal persons,” the government said in the Supreme Court today.
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