IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


10th November, 2023 Environment

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  • The Tamil Nadu Government issued an order to implement ‘Project Dolphin’

Project Dolphin

  • Project Dolphin is an Indian government initiative to conserve both riverine and oceanic dolphin species launched in 2021.
  • The project was announced on 15 August 2020 during the 74th Independence Day celebrations.
  • It is under the Wildlife Institute of India, an autonomous body of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • It is modeled on Project Tiger.
  • October 5th has also been designated as "National Dolphin Day" by the environment ministry.

Activities and Goals

  • A dolphin breeding centre for the Gangetic River dolphin is planned for the Bengal region, specifically the stretch of the Ganges river between Farakka and Gangasagar, already home to 650 dolphins.
  • India's dolphins are at risk of extinction due to a variety of factors, namely: strandings in canal systems, constructions of waterways, unchecked fishing activity using nylon nets, noise pollution from ships, among other factors.




Why is it important to save dolphins?

  • There was a time when Gangetic dolphins could be spotted in the Ganga at several places, from its delta in the Bay of Bengal to upstream in the Himalayan foothills.
  • It was also found in the Ganga’s tributaries. Some experts have reported that during the 19th century, dolphins were seen in the Yamuna up to as far as Delhi.
  • However, the construction of dams and barrages, and increasing pollution have led to a decline in the population of aquatic animals in the rivers in general and of dolphins in particular.
  • Aquatic life is an indicator of the health of river ecosystems. As the Gangetic dolphin is at the top of the food chain, protecting the species and its habitat will ensure the conservation of aquatic life of the river.

Have other governments used aquatic life as an indicator of the health of a river system?

  • Globally, there have been such examples. For instance, the Rhine Action Plan (1987) of the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) — representing Switzerland, France, Germany, Luxemburg and the Netherlands — brought back the salmon. The return of the migratory fish is taken as an indicator of the river’s improved health.
  • Salmon used to migrate from the North Sea to the Rhine every year and reproduce, but this stopped when pollution increased in the river. After a chemical accident in 1986 that caused the death of fish and microorganisms, the Action Plan was launched. This led to an improvement in the quality of the river water, and the salmons began to return.
  • While the salmon was considered lost in the Rhine in 1958, today several hundred salmon from the North Sea return to the accessible tributaries of the Rhine every year and reproduce naturally there,” says Assessment Rhine 2020, and ICPR report.


Q. Globally governments have used aquatic life as an indicator of the health of a river system. Why is it important to save dolphins in this context? Discuss Project Dolphin.