The Uttarakhand High Court on Monday recognised river Ganga as the first living entity of India, a move that grants it the same legal rights as a human being.

The new status means that if someone pollutes the Ganga — considered to be the holiest river in the country — the law will see it equal to harming a human being.

The court also ruled that the government form a Ganga Administration Board for better maintenance and cleaning of the river.

A similar ruling was passed in New Zealand last week when their parliament passed a bill declaring the 145-km long Whanganui River as a living entity.

The Whanganui became the first river in the world to be legally recognised as a living entity and was granted the same rights as a human being.

Earlier in the month, the court came heavily down upon the Union and the Uttarakhand governments for doing “nothing concrete” to clean the river. The court slammed them for wasting efforts on reviving a lost river Saraswati but not taking efforts on maintaining Ganga which if given proper attention will once again flow in its full glory.

“The Ganga should be saved for the generations to come,” the court added.

The Executive Committee of the National Mission for Clean Ganga had recently approved 20 projects – 13 of which are in Uttarakhand – worth Rs 1,900 crore to be swiftly implemented in Uttarakhand, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

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