Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ganges River Cleanup Project to Increase the River Dolphin Population

Ganges River Dolphin

Recently, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is planning to take action in cleaning up the mighty Ganges River in order to revive the river dolphin population. These magnificent species of river dolphins have been badly affected, due to poaching, excessive pollution, and dam-building over the years. According to Dr. Sandeep Behera, a senior coordinator for WWF India, the plan to clean the river is going to be done with a partnership between the Dolphin Action Plan and the Ganges Action Plan (GAP). The federal government has proposed to all industries along the river's banks and its tributaries to recycle their waste water. The central pollution control board has already shut down 56 tanneries along the river. However, Dr. Behera also pointed out other causes of the dolphin population depletion which included several rotting carcasses and less outflow of water due to dams. He further added that all dams will be asked to periodically release a specific volume of water according to the level required to maintain the dolphins' habitat. The primary sources of pollutants in focus include Hardwar, Garmukteshwar, Kanpur, and Allahabad. Statistics have shown that the river dolphin population in India is at 1800 animals, compared to 5000 in 1982. Dr. Behera and others hope that this plan will help boost the population back up to that level.

I feel proud to see that India is taking action in helping its river dolphin population. This strange and unique mammal has played a major role in the Hindu mythology as a vahana to the goddess Ganga, a godly personification of the Ganges. In addition to that, these animals are also play a key role in the river's ecosystem as indicators of clean water. That is, where they are found in the river, it shows that particular spot is clean to support other wildlife. The river itself is also sacred to India's people, who flock there to wash away their sins and pray to gods. Without the river dolphin, the wildlife in the Ganges River and its tributaries will further fluctuate due to ongoing pollution and would end up polluted such that no one would set a foot inside even for a simple prayer ritual. Also, every monsoon season is the time when the river floods. But once the floods recede, they leave behind silt which nourishes a fertile haven for wildlife. In other words, many wild animals living along the Ganges owe their existence to the river. If the Ganges remains polluted, the wildlife will not survive in the coming generations. In addition to wildlife, people also rely on the river for irrigation. This is why I feel it is very important to save and protect our mighty river from being further polluted.

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