Assessing the Legitimacy of Environmental Personhood


  • Laiba Ahsan


ganga, personhood, legitimacy, environment, conserve


An order of Uttarakhand High Court, granting “living entity” status to the Ganga and Yamuna rivers, left the centre flummoxed by the logistical nightmare that its implementation entailed, the centre had to approach Supreme Court. The High Court had appointed the director of Namami Ganga and Advocate General as legal parents but one could only wonder what this parenting job necessitated. Bestowing of this status on environmental entities owes its genesis to the work of Christopher, “Should Trees Have Standing?”. Personhood is conferred, to ecological entities, to stress on the need to conserve environment for its own intrinsic value rather than to conserve for human benefit. However, the modalities of this environmental measure need to be assessed to prevent any unintended adverse impact on environment. Environmental personhood, if conceptualised and enforced incorrectly, can lead to unfavourable outcomes such as excluding indigenous groups and other interested parties from making representations in courts, and leading to other complexities in the restoration process of these bodies. This paper aims to assess the legitimacy of Environment Personhood as an effective means to curb pollution and further degradation of environmental bodies.