The Jharkhand government has proposed two stretches of the river Ganga in Sahibganj district for ‘dolphin safari’ in a bid to boost eco-tourism and promote conservation of the national aquatic animal of the country, a forest department official said on Sunday.
The proposed stretches at Singhidalan in Rajmahal and Ojhatoli in Sahibganj are likely to be declared as “dolphin tourism sites”, he said.
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has recently sought proposals for two places – Sahibganj and Rajmahal – for the eco-tourism project from the state government, Sahibganj divisional forest officer (DFO) Manish Tiwary told PTI.
The state forest department has submitted its proposal to the Centre last month, he said.
“As per the Centre’s demand, we identified two sites at Singhidalan in Rajmahal and Ojhatoli in Sahibganj for the project. The distance between the two sites is around 40 km. We submitted our plan by the end of April. Now, we are waiting for its approval,” Tiwary, who played a key role in drafting the proposal, told PTI.
The presence of dolphin and economic and tourism possibilities were considered while selecting the sites, the official said.
“The proposed sites will help better monitoring and patrolling of the species and will boost local employment through tourism,” he said.
The two sites may be connected to the Centre’s ‘Dolphin Jalaj Safari’ project, the official said.
National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) had, in October 2020, launched the safari project at six places in the country- Bijnor, Brijghat, Prayagraj and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Kahalgaon in Bihar and Bandel in West Bengal.
Dolphins, protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, are found in an 83-km stretch of the river Ganga in Jharkhand’s Sahibganj district.
Wildlife Institute of India (WII) conducted a survey on the Ganga stretch in Jharkhand in January this year and found 81 dolphins.
“We believe the number will be higher as the river is very wide in Sahibganj. As per our estimation, the population of dolphins will be between 130 and 135,” Tiwary said.
Former state wildlife board member DS Srivastava told PTI that the protection of dolphins has been a major issue due to lack of monitoring and patrolling on the stretch.
“The forest department had seized two dolphins from a poacher’s house in Sahibganj last year,” he said.
Last year, it had sent a proposal to the state government for “setting up a dolphin sanctuary in a bid to conserve the aquatic animal and check unscientific fishing on the stretch”.
However, the department is yet to get the government’s nod on the proposal, he claimed.
“If the government accepts the proposal, this could be the second such reserve in the country after Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in Bihar,” he said.
A senior forest official, on condition of anonymity, said, “Poaching and unscientific fishing are the major threats to the species in the river. If the proposed sanctuary is approved, there will be certain restrictions and we will also have the power to plan strategies for conservation of the aquatic animal.”
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.