Akhilesh to save endangered Gangetic Dolphins



Lucknow: Politicians rarely find time for anything other than politics -- but for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the cause of saving the Gangetic Dolphins seems to have struck a chord.

An environmental engineer himself, Akhilesh Yadav, on Friday gave his consent for being part of the 'My Ganga My Dolphin' campaign, run jointly by the state forest department and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

According to sources, the chief minister will have a function at his official residence on October 07 between 6-7 pm.

"During the function, the chief minister would officially close the campaign by announcing the status and count of the Gangetic Dolphin in the state," an official said.

He would also be apprised of the status of the critically endangered fresh water species of dolphin in Uttar Pradesh, a WWF official said.

The state forest department has tied up with WWF-India to conduct a detailed census of the Gangetic Dolphins and create awareness about them among local communities.

The last census of the Gangetic Dolphins in the state was conducted in 2005.

This year, the survey would be taken up for three days beginning on October 05, the day in 2009 when dolphin was declared the national aquatic animal.

Other than foresters, WWF experts, more than 18 NGO teams and 150 'observers' would be conducting the survey to count the dolphins on the basis of sightings and by using the line transit method in rivers of Ganga, Rapti, Yamuna, Chambal, Ghaghra, Saryu, Gerwa, Ken, Betwa and Son.

The WWF had earlier requested officials of the chief minister's secretariat to kick start the dolphin census campaign from Karnavas village in Narora of Bulandshahr district. This section of the Ganga was declared first riverine Ramsar site for the Ganges Dolphin.

This is also the site where WWF-India has been working for the last 20 years for the conservation of the Gangetic Dolphin along with local communities.

Uttar Pradesh is understood to have about 600 Gangetic Dolphins in the Ganga and other river offshoots.

Foresters say the population of the endangered species in the stretch of the Ganga between Narora and Kanpur and Yamuna between Delhi and Etawah has almost come down to zero.

The villain, experts say, is high water pollution level and reduced water flow.

"Construction of dams and barrages has also hit them hard," an expert said.

With new and sizeable sightings in new patches across some rivers like Ghaghra, Chambal and Gerua, experts are hopeful that the species would be found in abundance.

The fact that the chief minister has found time for the environmental cause would go a long way in creating awareness about dolphins to the people at large, WWF officials conceded.

IANS