Dolphin safari proposed at Sahibganj, Rajmaha

Posted on May 17, 2022 by

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change of India has recently sought proposals for two places, namely Sahibganj and Rajmahal in the central state of Jharkhand – for the eco-tourism project. The proposed stretches are pretty likely to be declared ‘dolphin tourism sites.

The state government of Jharkhand has proposed that the two stretches of the river Ganga Sahibganj and Rajmahal in the Sahibganj district for ‘dolphin safari’ to boost eco-tourism and promote their conservation, a forest department official said on Sunday.

Dolphins are the national aquatic animal of the country. He said that the proposed stretches at Singhidalan in Rajmahal and Ojhatoli in Sahibganj are likely to be declared “dolphin tourism sites,” he said.

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India had recently sought these proposals for two places – Sahibganj and Rajmahal – for the eco-tourism project from the state government, Sahibganj divisional forest officer (DFO) Manish Tiwary claimed.

He asserted that the state forest department of Jharkhand had already submitted its proposal to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India last month.

“As per the Centre’s demand, we identified two sites at Singhidalan in Rajmahal and Ojhatoli in Sahibganj for the project. The distance between the two sites is around 40 km. We submitted our plan by the end of April. Now, we are waiting for its approval,” Tiwary added. He played a vital role in substantiating these proposals.

He added that the presence of dolphins and economic and tourism possibilities were considered while selecting the sites. “The proposed sites will help better monitor and patrol the species and boost local employment through tourism,” he claimed.

The official argued that the two sites might be connected to the Centre’s ‘Dolphin Jalaj Safari’ project. National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) had launched the ‘Dolphin Jalaj Safari’ project at six places in the country- Bijnor, Brijghat, Prayagraj, and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Kahalgaon in Bihar, and Bandel in West Bengal back in October 2020. The twin sites Sahibganj and Rajmahal of Sahibganj district of Jharkhand are natural favorites for adding to this national project.

Dolphins are legally protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, and they are found in an 83-km stretch of the river Ganga in Jharkhand’s Sahibganj district. In January this year, the National Wildlife Institute of India (WII) surveyed the Ganga stretch in Jharkhand and managed to find 81 dolphins.

“We believe the number will be higher as the river is vast in Sahibganj. As per our estimation, the population of dolphins will be between 130 and 135,” Tiwary argued.

Former state wildlife board member DS Srivastava claimed that the protection of dolphins has been a major national ecological issue due to a lack of monitoring and patrolling on the stretch.

“The forest department had seized two dolphins from a poacher’s house in Sahibganj last year,” he observed

Last year, the forest department of Jharkhand had sent a proposal to the state government for “setting up a dolphin sanctuary in a bid to conserve the aquatic animal and check unscientific fishing on the stretch.”

However, he added that the state forest department is yet to get the state government’s nod on the proposal.

“If the government accepts the proposal, this could be the second such reserve in the country after Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in Bihar,” he claimed

A senior forest official added, “Poaching and unscientific fishing are the major threats to the species in the river. If the proposed sanctuary is approved, there will be certain restrictions, and we will also have the power to plan strategies for conservation of the aquatic animal.”