The Yamuna and Ganga are not to be considered living entities, said the Supreme Court today, setting aside an earlier verdict that gave the rivers the same legal rights as a person.
The earlier High Court judgement ordered that the two rivers be represented by the chief of the National Mission for Clean Ganga – a government body overseeing projects and conservation of the Ganga – as well as the state’s chief secretary and advocate general.
In March, the Uttarakhand High Court, in an attempt to protect the 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.
In February, the National Green Tribunal had criticised the Centre for “wasting public money” in the name of the Namami Gange Project. “Not a single drop of River Ganga has been cleaned so far.”
The BJP government of the hill state then appealed against that verdict in the top court, stating that it was “unsustainable in law.”
Earlier this year, New Zealand declared its Whanganui river a living entity and appointed two guardians to protect its interests, making it the first river in the world to be given these rights