Friday, October 28, 2005

Government to help Ganges river dolphins numbers

To mitigate the extinction of endangered Ganges Dolphin, the Uttar Pradesh government has urged the Centre to intervene and help revive the aquatic specie.

Habitat degradation along with over expliotation of fisheries are the main reasons for the threat to Ganges dolphins even as the state government had sent an SOS to the Centre for taking concrete steps to prevent river pollution.

State Environment Minister Ujjawal Raman Singh is expected to meet Union Environment Minister this week at New Delhi to apprise him of the threat of extinction to the engandered specie.
''We will raise the issue and demand the Centre to include the UP environment department in monitoring the works being done to prevent river pollution,'' he told UNI.

At present only some NGOs, urban development department and local bodies were entrusted by the Centre to implement the environment project including the mega Ganga Action Plan (GAP) .
According to latest World Bank report on Ganges Dolphin of UP, the specie had been extirpated in those rivers, which had been acutely affected by water abstraction and discharge modification by dams and irrigation barrages.

The report -- published last year -- said that dolphin population in UP was around 687 in Ganga, Ghagra and Chambal rivers. Some dolphins also reside in the main Ganga between Bijnore and Narora, while a few are found in the Kanpur-Allahabad section of Ganga and Sone rivers.
The presence of a large number of barrages in the upper stretches of Ganges had isolated the river dolphin population cuasing a threat for inbreeding and loss of population size.

Over exploitation of fisheries, and use of mosquito mesh nets is another threat to the survival of the specie, Although the UP Forest department had formulated a strategy and GAP to conserve the river dolphins way back in 2002, but still nothing could be achieved.

As per the Plan, it was decided that commercial fishing and sand mining in important riverine biodiversity zones would be stopped immediately. The forest department was also to enforce the legal provisions to protect the endangered wildlife specie in all the river stretches in UP.
The Ganges dolphin is found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra river system in seven states of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Rajasthan, UP and West Bengal.

The dolphin is an indicator of the health of riverine ecosystem as it is at the apex of the aquatic food chain and its presence in adequate number symbolises rich biodiversity in the river system.
The Ganges Dolphin, commonly known as 'Sasu' is protected legally as it is included in the 'Schedule 1' of the India Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and the World Conservation Union has categorized this specie as 'Endangered' in 1996.

Quick "Facts about Dolphins"