Conservationists View on National Waterways Project
The report headlined ‘National waterways project threatens Gangetic dolphins: Conservationists’ stated that the development of the Ganga for shipping is seen by wildlife conservationists as the single-largest threat to the survival of the species whose numbers are declining in most part of the natural habitat.
This suggests that the development works on National Waterway-1 under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, being implemented with technical and financial assistance from the World Bank, is primarily responsible for the diminishing numbers of dolphins.
Response of IWAI
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) refutes this assumption. The project is yet to take off and cannot be responsible for the diminishing numbers of dolphins. The IWAI is awaiting a loan appraisal by the World Bank, for works on the 1,620-km stretch of the NW-1.
Evidences in support of IWAI response
The report quotes that the the river dolphins get highly stressed because of the dredging activity on NW-1 but no dredging activity is proposed within or in the vicinity of the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS).
Measures taken by IWAI
The IWAI is undertaking various mitigation measures to ensure that when NW-1 is developed, no dolphin is harmed.
For instance, vessel speeds shall be restricted to 2.7 knots in the VGDS to cut propeller noise.
Restricting speed in the area can maintain noise levels lower than 140 dB, which are lower than the tolerance levels of dolphins. Vessels will have propeller guards and dolphin deflectors to minimize accidents.