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India: Righting’ the wrong: Rights of rivers by Shrishtee Bajpai June 24,2020   |  Source: Mongabay

Imagine if the river Dibang in Arunachal Pradesh, currently at the centre of controversy because of the 3,097-megawatt (MW) Etalin hydroelectric project proposed to be built across it, had the right to flow?

What if its tributaries Tangon and Dri on whom two run-of-the-river projects are proposed, had the fundamental right to live and perform their ecological functions without any human-made hindrance, just like you and I have to life and speech?

What if the proposed diversion of 1150.08 hectares of forest land and felling of over 270,000 trees in what official documents call “subtropical evergreen broad-leaved and subtropical rainforest” was equivalent to murder or genocide?

Of the many paradoxes of human existence, this has to be one of the starkest: even as we depend for our lives on rivers, even as we venerate them in many cultures, we also pollute them, block their flow, divert them into lifeless channels, and desecrate them in every conceivable way.

- Over the past few years, courts in India came out with several orders declaring rivers, members of the animal kingdom and lakes as entities granting them rights equivalent to a living person.
- These orders may not be able to immediately control the destruction or exploitation of rivers but they could

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