A very thought-provoking news story out of India. The Hindustan Times reveals an environmentalist in Agra, India which is home to the famous Taj Majal, has requested the state’s police to file charges against Agra officials of numerous departments to be charged with attempted murder.
Brij Khandelwal decided to do this after one of India’s high courts declared the Ganga and Yamuna rivers are living entities that have legal rights. Consequently, Khandelwal has resorted to this after blaming a number of Agra bureaucrats and officials of attempting to kill the river by slow poison. He accuses Agra politicians and bureaucrats of negligence when it comes to the waste being dumped in the Yamuna river and efforts to prevent waste dumping in the water way. Therefore, he may have little alternative but to use this tactic to get the needed result.
Sadly, despite efforts to improve, India ranks very high on the corruption index. As a result, the country does not have many of the institutions like is seen in countries in the West that can help contribute to cleaning up India’s pollution.
In many ways the court’s declaration is a bad precedent to set since environmentalists in developed countries can use the logic of the ruling to attempt to shut down development. Also, India’s problems are indicative of problems developing countries face without the recognition of private property rights and recognition of contracts. In some ways I don’t entirely denounce Brij Khandelwal’s attempt due to the way politics is conducted in India and his activism is a response to the country’s corruption.
However, with the court precedent set, the court decision can be used by environmentalists down the line to halt production. Even against Indian officials who don’t entirely buy into the corruption and want their state or region to prosper. Environmentalism is about the sacrifice of mankind to nature and the Indian high court just codified this altruistic ethic into law.