Pacific

Court gives 2 Indian rivers same rights as a human

  • FILE- In this Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 file photo, a giant Idol of Hindu goddess Durga suspends from a crane before it is immersed in the River Yamuna during Durga Puja festival in New Delhi, India. A court in northern India has granted the same legal rights as a human to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, considered sacred by nearly a billion Indians. The Uttaranchal High Court in Uttarakhand state ruled Monday, March 20, 2017,  that the two rivers be accorded the status of living human entities, meaning that if anyone harms or pollutes the rivers, the law would view it as no different from harming a person. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File)

    FILE- In this Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016 file photo, a giant Idol of Hindu goddess Durga suspends from a crane before it is immersed in the River Yamuna during Durga Puja festival in New Delhi, India. A court in northern India has granted the same legal rights as a human to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, considered sacred by nearly a billion Indians. The Uttaranchal High Court in Uttarakhand state ruled Monday, March 20, 2017, that the two rivers be accorded the status of living human entities, meaning that if anyone harms or pollutes the rivers, the law would view it as no different from harming a person. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, file photo, Hindu devotees dry their clothes after taking a dip at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati in Allahabad, India. A court in northern India has granted the same legal rights as a human to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, considered sacred by nearly a billion Indians. The Uttaranchal High Court in Uttarakhand state ruled Monday, March 20, 2017,  that the two rivers be accorded the status of living human entities, meaning that if anyone harms or pollutes the rivers, the law would view it as no different from harming a person. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh, File)

    FILE- In this Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, file photo, Hindu devotees dry their clothes after taking a dip at Sangam, the confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati in Allahabad, India. A court in northern India has granted the same legal rights as a human to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, considered sacred by nearly a billion Indians. The Uttaranchal High Court in Uttarakhand state ruled Monday, March 20, 2017, that the two rivers be accorded the status of living human entities, meaning that if anyone harms or pollutes the rivers, the law would view it as no different from harming a person. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh, File)  (The Associated Press)

A court in northern India has granted the same legal rights as a human to the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, considered sacred by nearly a billion Indians.

The Uttaranchal High Court in Uttarakhand state ruled Monday that the two rivers be accorded the status of living human entities, meaning that if anyone harms or pollutes the rivers, the law would view it as no different from harming a person.

The judges cited the example of New Zealand's Whanganui River, which was declared a living entity by a New Zealand court last week.

The Uttaranchal court appointed three officials to act as legal custodians responsible for conserving and protecting the rivers and their tributaries.

Rampant pollution, deforestation and dumping of sewage have shrunk water levels in many Indian rivers.