Rivers are the lifeblood for millions of Indians and Bangladeshis. But a radical legal idea to save them from pollution is being met with opposition.

India’s Ganges River runs nearly 2,500km and its catchment is home to nearly 650 million people. It is also home to a rich collection of wildlife, including dolphins, turtles, otters and fish. Understood by Hindus to be the embodiment of the goddess Ganga, the river holds deep spiritual significance to over one billion people: the faithful believe that “bathing in the waters can absolve people of their sins”.

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