BHOPAL: Even as the Narmada Yatra, aimed at conserving the river and freeing it from pollution, winds its way through the state, the government is mulling giving the Narmada the status of a human being and codifying her rights.
A three-day conference of government departments, organised by the state Biodiversity Board had suggested that rivers should be treated as humans and should be given rights. Giving the example of New Zealand, it was suggested that to protect the rivers from dying, they should be given the status of a living being.
The Uttarakhand High Court had also ruled recently that the Ganga should be given her rights. Preliminary consultation has begun on what rights the state government can give to the Narmada while ensuring that it does not create problems for those inhabiting its banks.
The CM has launched a people’s awareness campaign centered on Narmada under which ‘Narmada Sevaks’ are being identified in villages and their names registered with the Jan Abhiyan Parishad. After Narmada gets her rights, the ‘Narmada Sevaks’ will have the authority to stop people from polluting the river.
According to a senior officer, once Narmada is equipped with rights, it will send out a message that playing with the health of the river might attract penalty. Once Narmada is given rights, the government will become its patron just as the priest or temple trust is the patron of the presiding deity of the temple.