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World Environment Day: Saving the Gangetic dolphins

Jun 05, 2012 02:07 PM IST India India

Kanpur: At the historic city of Kanpur, a thriving leather industry is central to the crisis facing the Ganga. Rakesh Jaiswal, an eco-crusader, tells us why.

"This is the failure of the Ganga Action Plan," says Jaiswal. "The government is responsible since animal wastes from over 200 tanneries nearby are flown straight into the river, when it should in fact reach the treatment plant here."

The stench at the tanneries is unbearable. CNN-IBN caught up with some workers at a tannery, none of whom thought its wastes were polluting the Ganga.

A contractor at the tannery said, "This is all dry work, it's not harming the Ganga in any way."

No one seems willing to take responsibility for the mess they are creating.

Despite Rs 900 crore being spent on cleaning the river under the Ganga Action Plan, the river is virtually dead on the stretch near here.

It's only when the river enters Bihar, that there is some hope. In Bhagalpur, an entire water sanctuary is dedicated to the Gangetic dolphin.

Dr Sunil Choudhary, a dolphin scientist at the Vikramshila Biodiversity Centre, says, "A mosquito net can scoop anything... anything of small size... and small size fish... it's the food of the dolhins, so if there is a depletion in the prey base... That's a major threat to the dolphins."

Dr Choudhary started the Dolphin Mitra programme to motivate fishermen to protect the species. Thanks to his efforts now, if a dolphin gets entangled in their nets, the fishermen release the mammal.

Dr Choduhary says that by saving the dolphins, one is actually saving the Ganga.