NEW DELHI: Concerned over possible damage to Gangetic dolphins by transportation through National Waterways 1 between Ganga and Hoogly river, a panel of the environment ministry has called for monitoring noise levels due to water traffic and its impact on the dolphins.
The environment ministry’s expert appraisal committee on thermal power projects while assessing proposal of Farakka Super Thermal Power Project regarding amendment of environment clearance for transport of coal through National Waterway 1, observed that the study by the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI) focuses on marine dolphins.
The Committee noted that the review of the study and impacts due to barge movement on environment requires more study and time to arrive at informed decision.
“The CIFRI study focused on the impact of barge traffic on riverine ecosystem. This study provides a useful and important benchmark data for biodiversity patterns and fish catch. However, CIFRI study was not able to directly measure impacts of noise on important species such as the gangetic Dolphin,” the committee observed.
The EAC noted that the biology of Gangetic dolphin, particularly their echo-location system may be different from that of marine dolphins, and so it is not certain that the results for marine dolphin can be extrapolated to river dolphins.
It further said that the study had to take recourse to using an acceptable noise thresholds observed for marine dolphins, and compared it with observed noise levels generated by the barges in the study region.
The EAC also noted that the continued movement of barges requires maintenance dredging of the channel in the river.
“Dredging, even if in some stretches and limited in frequency, involves removal of 50cm to 1m of the river bottom causing disturbance to the river bottom. The CIFRI study has not covered the impact of this form of disturbance,” it added.
The committee opined that it is necessary to proceed with caution in this matter, and recommended that studies are to be carried out by a reputed research institute to specifically monitor noise levels and its impact on Gangetic dolphins as also the impacts of maintenance of dredging for the current and higher levels of barge traffic.
It was also said that as the barges carrying coal pass through Vikramashila Dolphin Sanctuary and three notified Hilsa Sanctuaries under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, specific recommendations from Chief Wildlife Warden and Standing Committee of National Board of Wildlife (SCNBWL) be submitted.