The Telegraph
Thursday , May 23 , 2013
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Save-dolphin plea from UN

Unesco could include the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in Bhagalpur in its list of natural heritage sites if the state or the central government sends a formal proposal.

Ram Boojh, programme specialist, Natural Sciences, Unesco, New Delhi, delivered the keynote address at a seminar to mark International Day for Biological Diversity on Wednesday.

“Gangetic dolphins are a highly endangered species and their conservation is essential. Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in Bhagalpur district has a good number of such dolphins. It has very high potential for getting included in the world natural heritage sites. However, Unesco itself doesn’t declare any site as heritage site. If the state government or government of India sends a proposal to Unesco, it would be considered for approval,” he said.

The sanctuary — the only such in Asia — is spread over 55km in the Ganga between Sultanganj and Kahalgaon. Boojh added that if the sanctuary is declared a World Heritage site, it would be able to attract financial and technical assistance from external agencies for its conservation.

Organised by the state department of environment and forests, the theme of this year’s seminar was “Water and biodiversity”.

Dipak Kumar Singh, secretary, environment and forests department, said: “Though we appreciate the suggestion of sending a proposal for including Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary in the Unesco’s list of natural heritage sites, the conservation efforts taken here are still in a very nascent stage. The conservation programme of four wetlands in the state would be ready by the end of June. So, it would take some time for us to send such a proposal to Unesco.”

In his presentation on “Introduction to biodiversity”, Wildlife Trust of India manager Samir Kumar Sinha said: “Bihar has several wetlands but they are shrinking rapidly, mostly because of manmade factors. Wetlands are a natural infrastructure for water conservation. The authorities should take steps for their conservation.”

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