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17th March 2022 (6 Topics)

Project Dolphin: Minister pulls up officials over slow pace of work


Recently, Union JAL Shakti Minister expressed his displeasure over the slow pace of the approval process for Project Dolphin at a meeting of the Empowered Task Force (ETF) on Ganga.


About Project Dolphin:

  • Project Dolphin will be on the lines of Project Tiger, which has helped increase the tiger population.
  • Project got in-principle approval in December 2019, at the first meeting of the National Ganga Council (NGC), headed by the Prime Minister.
  • Implementing Agency: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • Special Conservation program needs to be taken up for Gangetic Dolphin which is a national aquatic animal and also indicator speciesfor the river Ganga spread over several states.
  • As the Gangetic dolphin is at the top of the food chain, protecting the species and its habitat will ensure conservation of aquatic lives of the river.
  • So far, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which implements the government’s flagship scheme Namami Gange, has been taking some initiatives for saving dolphins.

About Gangetic dolphin:

  • Gangetic river dolphin is India’s national aquatic animal. Its presence signals a healthy river ecosystem.
  • Habitat: It inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
  • Gangetic river dolphin is one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world. The other three are found in the Yangtze River, the Indus River in Pakistan and the Amazon River.
  • They are usually found in turbulent waters where there is enough fish for them to feed on.
  • Gangetic dolphins prefer deep water with adjoining shallow water. They live in a zone where there is little or no current that helps them save energy. If they sense danger, they can go into deep waters.
  • The dolphins swim from the no-current zone to the edges to hunt for fish and return. It is almost completely blind. It finds its way and prey using echoes.
  • 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.
  • Status of Conservation:
    • In the First Schedule of the Indian Wildlife (Protection), Act 1972.
    • Endangeredby the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
    • Appendix I(most endangered) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
    • Appendix II (migratory species that need conservation and management or would significantly benefit from international co-operation) of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).

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