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The Environmentalist

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 85–90 | Cite as

A grave danger for the Ganges dolphin (Platanista gangetica Roxburgh) in the Subansiri River due to a large hydroelectric project

  • Debojit BaruahEmail author
  • Lakhi P. Hazarika
  • Bikramaditya Bakalial
  • Sabita Borah
  • Ranjit Dutta
  • S. P. Biswas
Article

Abstract

The Ganges River dolphin (Platanista gangetica Roxburgh) of Subansiri River may be in great danger of extinction due to the construction of the 2,000-MW Lower Subansiri Hydroelectric Project, which started in 2006. A recent survey indicates that there are now 29 Ganges dolphins, up from 21 in 2006. It is feared that drastic changes would occur in the downstream hydrology and ecology of the Subansiri River after the installation of the project, scheduled for 2012. The water discharge during a major part of the day in dry months would come down to a meager 6 cumecs from the present average of 450 cumecs (1 cumec is shorthand for cubic meter per second; also cms, or m3/s (m3s–1). Riverine mega fauna like the dolphin would be worst hit by this extremely low discharge. Dumping of an extra amount of sediment from different construction phases has already increased sediment load in the Subansiri downstream and degraded some earlier pockets of dolphin up to 20 km below the dam site. There is reason to believe that high sediment influx might have silted up some of the deeper pools downstream, a preferred habitat of dolphins, forcing them to congregate close to the confluence of the Subansiri.

Keywords

Hydroelectric project Ganges River dolphin Conservation 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Financial assistance provided by University Grant Commission, Government of India, in the form of Major Research Project (Project no: F No33-137/207(SR)-2008) to the first author is gratefully acknowledge.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debojit Baruah
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lakhi P. Hazarika
    • 2
  • Bikramaditya Bakalial
    • 3
  • Sabita Borah
    • 3
  • Ranjit Dutta
    • 2
  • S. P. Biswas
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of BotanyLakhimpur Girls’ CollegeNorth LakhimpurIndia
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyNorth Lakhimpur CollegeNorth LakhimpurIndia
  3. 3.Department of ZoologyLakhimpur Girls’ CollegeNorth LakhimpurIndia
  4. 4.Department of Life SciencesDibrugarh UniversityDibrugarhIndia

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