KARACHI - Following the death of 24 Indus Blind Dolphins due to use of chemical by fishermen in the river last year, the Sindh Wildlife Department has recommended complete ban on fishing from Guddu to Sukkur Barrage in Indus River.

Sindh Wildlife Minister Dr Daya Ram informed this to the Sindh Assembly during question-hour on Thursday.

He said that his department had recommended the Fisheries Department to impose ban on fishing in Indus River to save the rare species.

Replying to the supplementary queries of the lawmakers, he said that a large number of 24 Blind Dolphins were found dead from Guddu to Sukkur in the Indus River in 2011. After the death of dolphins, a team of experts from Wildlife, Environment and Fisheries Departments, in its report, disclosed that the local fishermen used toxic chemical in the water to catch the fish in excessive quantity, which caused death of Blind Dolphins.

Following the deaths of rare species, the Wildlife Department recommended the fisheries department to impose ban on the fishing in Indus River from Guddu to Sukkur barrage. The summary has been submitted with the Sindh chief minister to approve ban in this regard. Dr Ram said the instruments had been installed at the gates of the three barrages of Indus to save the Blind Dolphins from sticking in the gates.

He claimed that due to steps taken by the department, only one case of blind dolphins’ death has been reported day before yesterday. Nusrat Sehar Abbasi of PML-F, who asked about any survey of Blind Dolphins carried out by the department and its result, Dr Ram replied a total of 950 Blind Dolphins were observed in Indus River from Guddu to Kotri Barrage last year.

According to survey of 2011, a huge number of 918 Blind Dolphins were observed from Guddu to Sukkur Barrage while only 32 Dolphins from Sukkur to Kotri barrage in the Indus River.

He said a total 458 blind dolphins were observed from Guddu to Kotri barrages in Indus River in 1996. Similarly, 499 dolphins observed in the survey carried out in 1999 and 620 were observed in 2001.

The number of Blind Dolphins was witnessed rising in 2006 which were a total of 811 Blind Dolphins while the same number rose to 950 in 2011, he told the lawmakers. To another query, he said, “Government does not plan to establish partridge homes in the province but Sindh Wildlife Department has private wildlife farms where partridge can be nourished.”

To a question regarding illegally possessed lions, the minister informed the House that Customs Department had handed over four lions to the Sindh Wildlife Department during its raid on December 22, 2010. These lions were illegally being transported from Czech Republic to Karachi via Islamabad through PIA flight 301. They were later safely transferred to the Karachi Zoological Garden.

Since then the lions are in safe custody in Zoological Garden Karachi where they are in good health, he said. The case has been decided by the custom court which imposed a penalty of Rs0.5 million on the culprit, adding the matter is with the Sindh High Court for further proceedings.

This was only case of confiscation of animals through custom department since last three years. Provincial Minister Shoaib Bukhari of MQM asked that whether the lions which were illegally being imported belong to the Lahore, Dr Ram said the lions were belonged to Lahore. 

Regarding Indus for All Programme, he said that this programme had been started in July 2006 which was funded by the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and being implemented by WWF-Pakistan.

The objectives of this programme are to improve community-based natural resources management in four priority areas including Keenjhar Lake, Keti Bundar, Pai Forest and Chotiari Reservoir.

Dr Ram said the department had no role in monitoring or regulating the funds of WWF-Pakistan.