India's first National Dolphin Research Centre to come up in Patna would undertake longterm research and conservation efforts to save the Ganga river dolphin - the national aquatic animal.
Gangetic dolphins are only one out of three such freshwater species surviving in the world. The centre would prepare an inventory after assessment of river biodiversity and dedicate itself to conserve their habitat in the distribution range of the dolphins, i.e. in the Ganga-Brahmaputra Basin. It would also conduct researches to maintain the ecological integrity of the Ganga-Brahmaputra river systems.
The centre would be under Patna University. The government has already drafted a detailed proposal in this regard, which would be sent to the planning commission.
The centre aims at developing a museum related to Ganga biodiversity in general and the dolphin in particular. As fishermen are the key stakeholders in it, the centre would strive to link the conservation of the Ganga dolphin with the livelihoods of the fishermen through appropriate interventions.
The move has been afoot even since the last year's visit of planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to Patna, during which, he went on cruise in the Ganga and was impressed by the sight of dolphins. Ahluwalia had assured, that the planning commission would provide financial assistance for the first-of-its-kind dolphin research centre in India.
Additional principal conservator of forests, DK Shukla, said the proposal was ready and it would be sent to the planning commission, which would then refer it to the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
Chief minister Nitish Kumar has also been keen on it, as Bihar has the bulk of the remaining dolphin population. Though demand for a centre has been there since 1990s, it got serious only after Kumar pursued it at various concerned fora,h said RK Sinha, well known dolphin researcher.
He said, the real success of the river project would be reflected in the increasing number of dolphins, which would be the real parameter of improving health of the river. It happened in river Thames following resurfacing of Salmon after nearly 100 years, as the water quality improved, he added.