Uttarakhand HC declares Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers as living entities

Sriparna Ghosh
Gomukh, terminus of the Gangotri glacier. The Bhagirathi peaks rise in the background.

After the Uttarakhand High Court granted Ganga and Yamuna rivers the status of the first living entities of India, it has extended the order to include a wide range of natural entities under the Juristic person status.

Justices Rajiv Sharma and Alok Singh declared all glaciers, rivers, streams, rivulets, lakes, air, meadows, dales, jungles, forests wetlands, grasslands, springs and waterfalls as living entities. 

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According to Business Standard, the court gave special attention to Gangotri and Yamnotri. It said: "Gangotri is one of the largest glaciers in the Himalyas. However, it is receding fast. In over 25 years, it has retreated more than 850 meters. Yamunotri Glacier is also receding at an alarming rate. Glacial Ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on earth."

In order to preserve and conserve the environment, the HC has conferred all the corresponding fundamental and legal rights, duties, liabilities to these natural entities.

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"Any harm caused to these bodies shall be treated as being caused to the human beings," the Court said.

According to the court, a "Juristic Person" is created and devised by human laws for the purposes of society and government. A juristic person can be any subject matter other than a human being to which the law attributes personality for good and sufficient reasons.

Meanwhile, Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand, the Director of NAMAMI Gange Project; Praveen Kumar, Director of National Mission to Cleanse Ganga (NMCG); Ishwar Singh, Legal Advisor of NAMAMI Gange Project and Advocate General of Uttarakhand; Balram K Gupta, Director, Academics, Chandigarh Judicial Academy and M C Mehta, Senior Advocate of Supreme Court have been appointed to act as the legal guardians of these new "humanised entities".

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