New Delhi, March 6: The National Mission for Clean Ganga will survey the Ganga river water in order to determine the population of aquatic life, which includes the endangered Gangetic Dolphins. The Central government launched the first ever survey in Ganga.The survey aims to create a baseline scientific data for the Centre to take suitable measures to improve the quality of the river water, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) said. The study is expected to cover to figure out fish species’ composition in the 2,525 km river has been kick-started from Uttarakhand where the survey is been conducted through Dehradun-based wildlife under the Namami Gange Programme.
The first leg of the census was launched on March 1 from Narora in Uttar Pradesh to Bijnor (covering distance of nearly 165 km) to establish the number of the national aquatic animal. The survey in the Allahabad to Varanasi stretch (close to 250 km) is expected to be launched this week.
A specialist in the area, Sandeep Behera, NMCG consultant (Biodiversity Centre), noted with concern of the disappearing of Gangetic dolphins, one of the four freshwater dolphins in the world, from the river stretch in Narora to Kanpur due to pollution. “The study, therefore, will find out stretches where dolphin habitats, what are the conditions there and the level of threat the long-snouted species is facing in a particular belt,” he added. All surveys carried out in the Ganga previously were conducted in bits and pieces or were rapid. This is for the first time a comprehensive and scientific study is being conducted. Wetlands and floodplains would also be covered during the survey once the monsoon sets in. A similar census would be conducted in the Ganga’s tributaries after its mainstream had been covered, he added.
Besides the number of dolphins, the number of ghariyals and turtles in the river will also be ascertained and the counting will continue until October this year, the NMCG has said. The study will also help in knowing the distribution pattern of aquatic life in the river, extent of threat level they are facing and their habitat conditions.
Behera said the NMCG chose the ongoing period for undertaking the study to avoid possibility of repeat count of animals as the river water level is relatively low now and their population gets concentrated in some pockets. The NMCG is also planning to conduct a study every two years. Sources in the Union Water Resources Ministry said that the survey was to be undertaken in 2015. However, the work could not take off due to “lack of co-ordination” among states.
Taking a seriousness of the issue the Wildlife Institute of India has been roped in to coordinate with the forest departments of Ganga basin states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Besides, eight NGOs involved in bio-monitoring activities have also joined the study.