Recently, the Uttar Pradesh government said that Dolphins have started coming back to the Ganga with improvement in the quality of the river water made possible by the Namami Gange programme.
GS III- Environment (Species in News)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Namami Gange programme
- Ganges River Dolphins
- Threats to Gangetic River dolphin
- Steps Taken to conserve and protect dolphins
About Namami Gange programme
Nodal: Ministry of Jal Shakti.
- It is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as a ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014 to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
- Implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterparts—State Programme Management Groups.
Main Pillars of the Namami Gange Programme are:
- Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure
- River-Surface Cleaning
- Industrial Effluent Monitoring
- River-Front Development
- Public Awareness
- Ganga Gram
Ganges River Dolphins
- The Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) was officially discovered in the 1800s and these Ganges river dolphins once lived in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. (But the species is extinct from most of its early distribution ranges.)
- The Ganges river dolphin was recognised as the National Aquatic Animal in 2009, by the Government of India.
- The Ganges river dolphin can only survive in freshwater and is essentially blind.
- They are frequently found alone or in small groups, and generally a mother and calf travel together.
- The Indus and Ganges River dolphins are both classified as ‘Endangered’ species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- The Ganges dolphin is a Schedule I animal under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, and has been included in Annexure – I (most endangered) of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
- The Ganges dolphin is also listed under Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) (migratory species that need conservation and management or would significantly benefit from international co-operation).
Threats to Gangetic River dolphin
- Pollution: It faces a number of threats such as dumping of single-use plastics in water bodies, industrial pollution, and fishing.
- Restrictive Flow of Water: The increase in the number of barrages and dams is also affecting their growth as such structures impede the flow of water.
- Poaching: Dolphins are also poached for their flesh, fat, and oil, which is used as a prey to catch fish, as an ointment and as a supposed aphrodisiac.
- Shipping & Dredging: It is also called a blind dolphin because it doesn’t have an eye lens and uses echolocation to navigate and hunt.
Steps Taken to conserve and protect dolphins
- Project Dolphin: The Prime Minister announced the government’s plan to launch a Project Dolphin in his Independence Day Speech 2020. It will be on the lines of Project Tiger, which has helped increase the tiger population.
- Dolphin Sanctuary: Vikramshila Ganges Dolphin Sanctuary has been established in Bihar.
- Conservation Plan: The Conservation Action Plan for the Ganges River Dolphin 2010-2020, which “identified threats to Gangetic Dolphins and impact of river traffic, irrigation canals and depletion of prey-base on Dolphins populations”.
- National Ganga River Dolphin Day: The National Mission for Clean Ganga celebrates 5th October as National Ganga River Dolphin Day.
-Source: The Hindu