On the line of successful Project Tiger and Project Elephant, India will have two more similar conservation missions, Project Dolphin and Project Lion, with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announcing the initiatives to conserve these two species in a dedicated manner..
Addressing the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on 74th Independence Day
Modi also spoke about the possibility of making Ladakh the country’s first ‘carbon neutral’ (no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through carbon offsetting measures) region — a unique feat like how Sikkim turned itself as an ‘organic state’ (farming practice without use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides).
Underlining that the country is committed towards promotion and conservation of its biodiversity, he said, “India has shown that the march towards development is possible by balancing the environment”.
“We have successfully carried forward Project Tiger and Project Elephant. The tiger population has increased in India,” said the Prime Minister while announcing how similar projects for Asiatic lions and dolphins, living in the rivers and in the seas, would give a boost to biodiversity and create employment opportunities.
Besides helping in mitigation of pollution in rivers and oceans, the conservation of dolphins under Project mode will have potential to promote tourism.
Referring to the ongoing National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) on air pollution mitigation measures, he said, “We are working on a holistic way to reduce pollution in the select 100 cities through an integrated approach and use of modern technology with people’s participation.”
India had in 2010 declared Gangetic river dolphin as a National Aquatic species. The Gangetic river dolphin is a species of freshwater dolphins primarily found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers and their tributaries in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
At present, there are about 3700 Gangetic river dolphins in the Indian river systems. These dolphins are sighted along deep river reaches in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The Project Dolphin, announced by the PM, will, however, cover both freshwater (river) and marine (oceanic) dolphins.
Though India had last year launched Asiatic lion conservation project with a budgetary contribution of nearly Rs 98 crore, the Project Lion would be a holistic one with many additional components including creation of new required infrastructure, use of technology, involvement of experts for conservation, providing world standard care and health management.
The project will also address human-wildlife conflict and will be inclusive, involving local communities living in the vicinity of the lion landscape and creating livelihood opportunities for them.