Saving dolphins

The Patna high court gets cracking on erring officials

By Samir Kumar Sinha
Published: Thursday 31 May 2001

showing its deep concern over the rampant killing of the Gangetic dolphins Platanista gangetica by fisherfolk, the Patna high court, comprising Chief justice Ravi S Dhavan and justice Shiv Kirti Singh, indicted the district magistrates and superintendents of police of nine districts of Bihar and environment and forests department of the Union and state governments on April 27, 2001. The court said that immediate action must be taken by the administration and departments concerned to stop the killing of the dolphins.

The court instituted its proceedings on the basis of a report published in local daily mentioning the killings of dolphins near the confluence of the river Ganga and Gandak near Patna. Counsels for both the Union and state governments have been asked to report to the court about the remedial measures within a fortnight.

The Gangetic dolphins are classified as an endangered species in 1996 World Conservation Union iucn Red List of threatened animals. "The species is facing a severe threat due to habitat destruction and pollution of rivers. But the most immediate threat is the incidental killing by fisherfolk," says R K Sinha of department of zoology, Patna University, and chairperson, Asian River Dolphin Committee. The dolphins are killed for its body fat and flesh.

Though the department has set up the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary between the stretch of Sultanganj and Kahalgaon in Bihar, the management has failed to protect the dolphins.

"Around 25-30 dolphins have been killed by fisherfolk near Patna during the last three to four months. Such killings have raised doubts about their survival in the river Ganga and its tributaries in the stretches of Bihar, which inhabit maximum number of dolphins.

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