When this news first hit, people were still left wondering if this was an April Fool’s joke, or not — for Uttarakhand’s High Court had only recently granted legal rights to the rivers Ganga and Yamuna. The two rivers are now considered living entities, in an attempt to perhaps clean the rivers of the pollution that has amassed within them, over the years. The news followed up soon after New Zealand granted Whanganui River the status of a living entity.
Now, with this latest addition, the Uttarakhand High Court is also granting legal rights to the glaciers Gangotri and Yamunotri, the very glaciers that the rivers Ganga and Yamuna flow from. However, they didn’t just stop there. They went ahead and bestowed living entity status on nearly every bit of nature in the state! Not only does this mean that Mother Nature has finally been legally protected, but upon closer inspection, this stands to mean that any harm done to these protected entities will be evaluated the same as harming a person.
In a report by the Hindustan Times, judges Rajeev Sharma and Alok Singh said, “The past generations have handed over the ‘Mother Earth’ to us in its pristine glory, and we are morally bound to hand over the same Mother Earth to the next generation.” The court’s first orders, in regards to River Ganga and Yamuna, gives the Centre eight weeks to set up boards for cleaning and maintaining the rivers. Considering this has all been done in order to preserve and conserve our environment, let’s hope the Uttarakhand High Court actually follows through with these new laws. It’s one thing to introduce a law, it’s another to actually enforce it.
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