Gangetic dolphins Current Affairs - 2020

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Environment Flows and Assessment Workshop

Union Minister for Jal Shakti inaugurated the International Workshop on Environment Flows.


  • The Minister released the Guidance Document on Environment Flow Assessment. It is the first of its kind.
  • The workshop aims at answering the following questions
    • What is the overall aim for environment flows assessment in India?
    • What are the long term and short-term goals to implement environment flows according to overall aims and targets?
  • The workshop brings together the Indian and European experiences.
  • National and International experts from Germany, UK, Africa, Bhutan, Poland, Netherlands and South Africa are participating in the workshop


According to the IUCN,

  • Environmental flow is the water provided within the river, wetland or coastal zone to maintain ecosystems and their benefits.
  • It is a tool for allocating water among multiple, competing uses in a river basin or watershed.
  • The Environmental Flows provide the means for integrated management of river flows to meet the needs of the people, industry, agriculture, energy and ecosystems.

For instance, River Ganga

  • Supports 400 million people
  • It provides unique ecosystem to the India’s National Aquatic animal Gangetic Dolphins, turtles and gharials

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National waterways project threatens Gangetic dolphins

According to the scientists and wildlife conservationists, the National Waterways (NW) project possesses serious environmental threat to Gangetic river dolphins.

The development NW1 in the River Ganga is considered as single-largest threat to the survival of the species, whose numbers are declining in most parts of their natural habitat.

River dolphins are found in Ganga and Brahmaputra and its tributaries. It has been declared endangered species and is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

This fresh water dolphin species are practically blind. They rely on bio-sonar method to move around and catch their prey.  It is the National Aquatic Animal of India.

Threats to survival of Gangetic river dolphins

  • Construction of dams and barrages which hinders the natural flow of the rivers is the main reason considered for decline in the population of Gangetic river dolphin.
  • Besides, pollution and lack of awareness also causes decline in their population.
  • Loss of habitat due to increased developmental work, depletion of prey base, accidental mortality in fishing nets and accidents with vessel propellers are also some anthropogenic threats. The ships’ noise-levels also disrupt the ability to navigate and find prey.

Importance of National Waterways (NW) projects

  • India has a huge untapped potential of inland waterways. To tap this potential the Central Government has planned to develop National Waterway 1, World Bank-aided 1600-km waterway project in River Ganga between Allahabad and Haldia for inland transportation.
  • It has potential to emerge as the logistics artery for northern India and improve navigability of the River Ganga as it passes through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.


  • To tackle threat to dolphins, Union Ministry of Environment and Forest Conservation in 2016 had launched Endangered Species Recovery Plans for four species of global importance.
  • During the development of NWs, some measures will be listed such as safeguards, mentioned issues like minimising dredging.
  • Movement of cargo vessels will be restricted through protected habitat areas through river, monitoring systems and sound mufflers will be installated to reduce underwater noise.
  • Nesting grounds, breeding and spawning grounds of dolphins will be identified and development projects activity will be minimised in those areas.

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