Biodiversity & Environment
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Rescuing Gharials: Mahanadi River
- 11 Jun 2021
- 3 min read
Why in News
Recently, Odisha announced a cash award of Rs. 1,000 to conserve gharials in Mahanadi River Basin.
- About Gharials:
- Gharials, sometimes called gavials, are a type of Asian crocodilian distinguished by their long, thin snouts. Crocodilians are a group of reptiles that includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and more.
- India has three species of Crocodilians namely:
- Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus): IUCN Red List- Critically Endangered
- Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris): IUCN- Vulnerable.
- Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus): IUCN- Least Concern.
- All the three are listed on Appendix I of CITES and Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
- Exception: Saltwater Crocodile populations of Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are included in Appendix II of CITES.
- Habitat of Gharials:
- Natural Habitat: Fresh waters of the northern part of India.
- Primary Habitat: Chambal river (a tributary of Yamuna).
- Secondary Habitat: Ghagra, Gandak river, Girwa river (Uttar Pradesh), the Ramganga river (Uttarakhand) and the Sone river (Bihar).
- Significance: Population of Gharials are a good indicator of clean river water.
- Conservation Efforts:
- Breeding Centres of Kukrail Gharial Rehabilitation Centre in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, National Chambal Sanctuary (Gharial Eco Park, Madhya Pradesh).
- Increased river pollution, dam construction, massive-scale fishing operations and floods.
- Illegal sand mining and poaching.
- Mahanadi River:
- The Mahanadi River system is the third largest of peninsular India after Godavari and Krishna, and the largest river of Odisha state.
- The catchment area of the river extends to Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand and Maharashtra.
- Its basin is bounded by the Central India hills on the north, by the Eastern Ghats on the south and east and by the Maikala range on the west.
- It rises from a place near Sihawa in Bastar hills in the state of Chhattisgarh to the south of Amarkantak.
- Major Tributaries: Seonath River, Hasdeo river, Mand river, Ib river, Jonking river, Tel river
- Mahanadi River Dispute: The Central Government constituted Mahanadi Water Disputes Tribunal in 2018.
- Major Dams/Projects on Mahanadi:
- Hirakud Dam: This is the longest dam of India.
- Ravishankar Sagar, Dudhawa Reservoir, Sondur Reservoir, Hasdeo Bango and Tandula are other major projects.