To save dolphins from extinction, the Union government has declared them as the national aquatic animal. The dolphins found in the Ganga are a rare species.

This decision was taken in the first meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Monday.

Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said that like the tiger as the national animal and peacock as the national bird, the government had declared dolphins as the national aquatic animal as it represented the health of the rivers, particularly the Ganga.

The proposal came from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar during the meeting, which was approved by the NGRBA, Mr. Ramesh said.

By doing this the government was not only ensuring the survival of the species, which are endemic to the Ganga, but also sought to cleanse the river, he said.

“Since the river dolphin is at the apex of the aquatic food chain, its presence in adequate numbers symbolises greater bio-diversity in the river system,” the Minister said. Bringing back the dolphins would be the success of the Clean Ganga Mission approved by the Authority.