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Project Dolphin

Context:

The Ministry of Jal Shakti has expressed his concern with the poor pace of Project Dolphin’s approval process.

Relevance:

GS III- Environment (Species in News)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. What is Project Dolphin?
  2. Ganges River Dolphins
  3. Threats to Gangetic River dolphin
  4. Steps Taken to conserve and protect dolphins

What is Project Dolphin?

  • The idea received in-principle approval in 2019 at the first meeting of the Prime Minister’s National Ganga Council (NGC).
  • Project Dolphin is one of the operations planned as part of Arth Ganga, the government’s ambitious inter-ministerial programme approved in 2019.
  • The project will follow in the footsteps of Project Tiger, which has aided in the growth of the tiger population.
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which executes the government’s flagship scheme Namami Gange, has taken modest steps toward dolphin conservation so far.
  • It is expected to be implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

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

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September 2022
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