Himalayan glaciers granted status of ‘living entities’

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DEHRADUN, India, April 3, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – An Indian court has recognised Himalayan glaciers, lakes and forests as “legal persons” in an effort to curb environmental destruction, weeks after it granted similar status to the country’s two most sacred rivers.

In a decision that aims to widen environmental protections in the mountainous region, the court granted the legal standing to glaciers Gangotri and Yamunotri that feed India’s venerated Ganga and Yamuna rivers, which won the status in a landmark judgement in March.

“The rights of these entities shall be equivalent to the rights of human beings and any injury or harm caused to these bodies shall be treated as injury or harm caused to human beings,” the highest court in Himalayan state of Uttarakhand said in its ruling on Friday.

It said Yamunotri glacier, which is the source for Yamuna river was shrinking at an alarming rate.

Gangotri, which feeds the river Ganga and is one of the largest glaciers in the Himalayas, is also “receding fast”, the court said.

“In over 25 years, it has retreated more than 850 meters (2,800 feet),” a two-judge bench of justices Rajeev Sharma and Alok Singh said.

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