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Do Rivers Have Rights?
December 16, 2018 at 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm
If a river had the same legal rights as a person, would we do a better job of protecting its ecosystem? And how might this legalistic approach intersect with traditional customs and rituals for sacred places?
Hindus believe life is incomplete without bathing in the Ganges at least once. While the river’s spiritual purity has remained unchallenged for millennia, its water is now physically impure with the pollution of human and industrial waste.
A court in Uttarakhand ruled that the Ganges and Yamuna rivers and their related ecosystems have “the status of a legal person, with all corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities…in order to preserve and conserve them.” Can the same claim be made for the Hudson or any ecosystem? And if so, what mechanisms can enforce these declarations?
Philosopher Vishwa Adluri meets with Riverkeeper’s John Lipscomb and environmental lawyer Ben Price to enlighten us on the issues at stake.