Despite the extinction threat looming over them, dolphins, especially the Ganga River Dolphins, are not likely to be saved soon as plans for the national dolphin research centre in Patna University (PU) seem to have been blocked.
Research into the habitat of dolphins, declared India’s national aquatic animal in 2009, is not likely to make much headway as the status of the centre in Patna, Bihar, has not been made clear. Land for it has also not been identified as yet. Till now, despite the National Dolphin Action Plan in 2010 to save the highly endangered freshwater mammal, no new survey has been commissioned. The last one, done in 2012, was conducted on a 525-km stretch of Ganga between Chausa (Buxar) and Sahebganj and nearly 1,500 dolphins were counted.
The initial proposal was made five years ago and the State Wildlife Board, headed by the chief minister, had approved the project and sanctioned Rs 20 crore to the Infrastructure Development Authority to develop the requisite infrastructure for the centre, which was intended to bring together research scholars from all over the country and abroad.
The idea was to set up the national dolphin research centre as an autonomous body spread over two acres of Patna university land , near Patna law college ghat on the Ganga river.
“The proposal is stuck over issues of autonomy. While Patna university wants the centre to function under it, the government wants it to be autonomous “, said US Jha, chief wildlife warden.
“Initially, the university agreed to provide two acres of land for the centre near Law College Ghat. “But its syndicate, at a meeting, rejected the proposal, despite the state already releasing funds for infrastructure,” said dolphin expert RK Sinha of PU. Sinha believes the huge delay has adversely impacted the project.
“There has been no survey of dolphin population in Bihar since 2012. We have not been able to even monitor their habitat,” he said. Had the centre come up, the government would have allocated a budget for the survey and habitat monitoring work,” Sinha added.
The chief wildlife warden said efforts were underway to persuade the PU authorities to release the land for the centre. “We will resume our pursuit in all earnestness,” he told HT.