Meaning: Rivers as Legal Entities

Meaning: Rivers as Legal Entities

  • The status accorded to the Ganga and the Yamuna would mean that if anyone was found polluting the rivers, it would amount to harming a human being.
  • Recognizing the rivers as a living entity grants them new found legal identity and all rights laid out in the Constitution of India.
  • The two rivers thus have the right to be legally protected and not be harmed/destroyed.
  • They can also be parties to disputes.
  • Any interference with the river as a whole, including construction of dams, takes away from its essential and basic character.
  • Such a move by court would involve a re-look into construction activities across the river such as sand mining and construction of dams.


About the rivers

  • The two rivers, which are sacred for the Hindus, sustain millions of people in the country.
  • However, they have been in a state of neglect and even though several government initiatives are aimed at restoring their health, not much has been achieved yet.
  • The Ganga, often called India’s lifeline, has significant economic, environmental and cultural value attached to it.
  • Originating in the Himalayas and flowing into the Bay of Bengal in the east, it travels for more than 2,500km through the plains of northern and eastern India.
  • The river flows through Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • Over 1500 million litres of raw sewage is discharged into the Ganga every day. This joins 500 million litres of industrial waste dumped by more than 700 highly polluting industries located along it.
  • The decision is likely to boost the Namami Gange (Clean Ganga) Mission, a project launched to clean and revive the river.
  • The centre approved an outlay of Rs20,000 crore for five years for the centrally financed mission and created a ministry to focus on it.
  • To reach out to people along the river, the government has been working on developing villages as part of its programme.
Section : Environment & Ecology

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