Beas · Fish · Fish Sanctuaries

Beas Dolphins: A Flash Of Fin, A Glimmer Of Hope

Above: A female Platanista gangetica minor breaks the surface of the Beas (Photo by Arati Kumar Rao)

India’s few remaining Indus river dolphins are confined to one short, beautiful stretch of the Beas. They have a fighting chance at survival only if we ensure a healthy river

Guest Blog by Arati Kumar Rao

A dark shape cleaves the Beas river, leaving a long wake in its trail. From the way it moves, it is neither a human, nor fish, nor even a river dolphin. The shape swims strongly, shrugging off the strong current. It holds its line and makes straight for a sandbar, hauling itself up on a buff-coloured spit.

A black dog, probably feral. It shakes itself free of water and, running across the sand, begins tugging at the beached carcass of a cow. Another bigger dog appears out of nowhere, and the two begin to snarl and gorge, yanking and tearing flesh off the arcing ribs.

River sandbars contain multitudes. I was upstream of Harike, the largest wetland in north India. The critically endangered gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), the fish-eating, long-snouted crocodilian, of which no more than a few hundred survive in the world, bask and nest on these sandbars. Freshwater turtles like the red-crowned roofed turtle (Batagur kachuga) and the Indian narrow-headed soft-shell turtle (Chitra indica), among the most endangered of freshwater species, use sand islands extensively to breed and to bask. Hundreds of thousands of birds — some transient visitors from China and Siberia and Central Asia wintering here, some resident — forage, nest, breed, raise chicks. Many of these creatures have this in common – they are all threatened, to greater or lesser degree.

The sight of predatory, feral dogs in this delicate ecosystem comes with chilling implications. Continue reading “Beas Dolphins: A Flash Of Fin, A Glimmer Of Hope”

Dams

India Rivers Studies 2017: Rivers Succumbing To Dams, Pollution & Climate Change

After reviewing status of India rivers, SANDRP presents an account of research, studies and important reports on erratic monsoon, climate change, floods which all are severely affecting the rivers, their aquatic life and livelihood of dependent communities.

Rivers and Monsoon

Number of rainy days falling across river basins in India The study has found that number of rainy days is falling across river basins in India and rainfall intensities are seen to be increasing. The analysis determined changes in heavy precipitation and peak flood for seven river basins in India—Krishna, Godavari, Mahanadi, Narmada, Cauvery, Sabarmati and Brahamani and Baitarani. For the study, data pertaining to daily flows for about 30 odd years and precipitation for 61 years (from 1951 to 2012) were analysed.

The analysis also said the rivers which flow from west to east direction (in India) have more rainy days compared to those which flow towards the west. The study also held that anthropogenic activities (construction of storage reservoirs, diversions, urbanization, land-use change, and soil and water conservation measures, among others) have probably affected the generation of peak floods in the rivers of India. http://www.livemint.com/Politics/c7v8oXmsMDHIldjDv9k6lK/Number-of-rainy-days-falling-across-river-basins-in-India-s.html (Live Mint, 27 April 2017)

Continue reading “India Rivers Studies 2017: Rivers Succumbing To Dams, Pollution & Climate Change”

Ganga

Turning Blind Eyes: Do we care for river dolphins or their habitat?

Above: (A) An image showing the Gangetic dolphin in its wild habitat (photo credit: Kadambari Deshpande), (B) a dead Gangetic dolphin calf (notice the pinhole like eyes), and (C) the calf is 1 m long, and adults measure to 2.6 m (photo credits for B & C: Sushant Dey).

Guest blog by Nachiket Kelkar

In 2015, The Times of India reported on the Ganges River Dolphin census exercise conducted in Uttar Pradesh, with the picture of a water buffalo to pass off as a dolphin. If you do not believe this, check out the image below[i]. Generally, most news reports on the river dolphin, some even by reputed news outlets (e.g. http://alert-conservation.org/issues-research-highlights/2016/5/30/rivers-of-destruction-the-implications-of-indias-national-waterways-bill-for-biodiversity), show the wrong species of dolphins, mostly marine species jumping acrobatically in aquariums. A forest department officer told us during their preparations for the Wildlife Week that, “if we put a beautiful dolphin’s picture, people will get more attracted to conserving the Gangetic dolphin, which is quite ugly, and the poor thing is also blind – toh achcha nahin lagta hai (it does not look good).” It does not stop here. A senior ecologist expressed concern recently in a public lecture, about the river dolphin becoming blind due to pollution. Against this background it is clear how little we know the Ganges Dolphin (our National Aquatic Animal, mind it) even today. Continue reading “Turning Blind Eyes: Do we care for river dolphins or their habitat?”

Dams · Fish

Sushri Uma Bhartiji: Hilsa, Fisherfolk and Ganga deserve more than promise of a Fish Ladder by CIFRI!

On the 3rd of August 2016, Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti ji made some interesting remarks in her answer to a question about impact of Ganga Waterways Project on Biodiversity (Please see SANDRP’s detailed report on the same issue here). Her brief speech can be seen here: https://youtu.be/ohEOMfay71I

Uma
Courtesy: Asianetnews.tv

Unfortunately, while she talked at length about pollution issues, Delhi Government’s non-cooperation with the Center, etc, she had nothing substantial to say about the impact of dredging, water traffic, etc., on more than 1000 kilometers of Ganga flowing through several protected areas and fish habitats. Continue reading “Sushri Uma Bhartiji: Hilsa, Fisherfolk and Ganga deserve more than promise of a Fish Ladder by CIFRI!”