News: A planned diversion of freshwater from the Brahmani river basin would bring the Bhitarkanika National Park under serious threat. Read the news here.
Lets understand in simple language:
Fresh water in enormous quantities will be diverted and withdrawn from the Brahmani river to the irrigation canals once the Rengali reservoir gets completed. Already a lot of fresh water is used up by the Talcher-Angul coal mines, power-generating units as well as the Kalinga Nagar steel and power hub in the Jajpur district.
Steel units like the Jindal Stainless, Tata Steel, Mesco, Bhusan, Nilachal Ispat Nigam Ltd etc, situated downstream of the Samal barrage draw around 100,000 cubic metres of water for every tonne of steel. And an additional Rengali reservoir will consume more water from the Brahmani river leaving very little for the Bhitarkanika National Park of Odisha.
This Bhitarkanika National Park is India’s second-largest mangrove forest after the Sundarbans, home to 62 mangrove species, 1600 salt water crocodiles, crustaceans and aquatic flora and fauna. It is also a Ramsar Site designated in 2002.
This mangrove ecosystem would not survive if a required amount of freshwater is not mixed with the saline water. Freshwater mixed with seawater near the lower end of the Brahmani and Kharasrota rivers to produce brackish water is ideal for mangroves.
In the absence or lack of fresh water, various species of kingfisher bird, shrimps, mullets, mud crabs etc will start to disappear. This might also lead to a high rise in human-crocodile conflict since the estuarine crocodiles of the Bhitarkanika National Park shall leave the core area and migrate upstream due to increasing in salinity. Thus many locals are likely to be attacked by the saltwater crocodiles while bathing in the Brahmani and Kharasrota rivers.
Nearly 5 lakh Olive Ridley sea turtles arrive in the area every year. If there is an increase in salinity and loss of mangroves, these turtles would migrate to other locations for their nesting and congregation, or they might even disappear. Without the mangroves, the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary will become a marine desert and lose its richness and diversity of marine life.
About Bhitarkanika National Park:
Bhitarkanika National Park is a 145 sq. km large national park in northeast Kendrapara district in Odisha in eastern India. It was designated on 16 September 1998 and obtained the status of a Ramsar site on 19 August 2002. The area is also been designated as a second Ramsar site of the State after Chilika Lake. It is surrounded by Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, which is spread over 672 sq. km. Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary are to the east, separating the swamp region and mangroves from the Bay of Bengal. The national park and wildlife sanctuary is inundated by the rivers Brahmani, Baitarani, Dhamra, Pathsala. It hosts many mangrove species and is the second-largest mangrove ecosystem in India. The national park is home to Saltwater crocodiles, Indian python, king cobra, and many other species of flora and fauna.
About Brahmani River:
Brahmani River, river in northeastern Odisha state, eastern India. Formed by the confluence of the Sankh and South Koel rivers in southern Bihar state, the Brahmani flows for 480 kms. It winds generally south-southeast past Bonaigarh and Talcher and then turns east to join northern branches of the Mahanadi River, which then empties into the Bay of Bengal at Palmyras Point. It is one of the few rivers that cut across the Eastern Ghats, and it has formed a minor gorge at Rengali, where a dam has been built. Apart from the Rengali dam mentioned above, there also exists a barrage shortly before Talcher called Samal Barrage. The Jokadia and the Jenapur anicuts are the other irrigation projects on the river. Near its mouth, the river is also crossed by the Odisha Coast Canal that takes water from it.
About Olive Ridley Sea Turtle:
- Protection Status:
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Scheduled 1
- IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
- CITES: Appendix I
- They are found in warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- The Odisha’s Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is known as the world’s largest rookery (colony of breeding animals) of sea turtles.
They’re the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles.
– They got their name from its olive green coloured carapace.
They are found in the tropical regions of the South Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
– The world’s largest rookery of sea turtles is Odisha’s Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
Every year, the Indian Coast Guard’s “Operation Olivia”, initiated in the early 1980s, helps protect Olive Ridley turtles as they congregate along the Odisha coast for breeding and nesting from November to December.
– It also seizes unlawful trawling activities.
About Salt Water Crododiles:
- Found in coastal areas of Odisha, WB and TN.
- They have the broadest distribution of any modern crocodile, ranging from the eastern coast of India, throughout most of Southeast Asia, and northern Australia.
- They are apex predators.
- Least Concern in IUCN Red List.
UPSC MCQs and PYQs:
In which one among the following categories of protected areas in India are local people not allowed to collect and use the biomass? 
(a) Biosphere Reserves
(b) National Parks
(c) Wetlands declared under Ramsar Convention
(d) Wildlife Sanctuaries
Answer : b
Consider the following statements : 
- The boundaries of a National Park are defined by legislation.
- A Biosphere Reserve is declared to conserve a few specific species of flora and fauna.
- In a Wildlife Sanctuary, limited biotic interference is permitted.
Which of the statements given above is / correct ?
(b)2 and 3 only
(c)1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Consider the following pairs:
Protected area Well-known for
- Bhiterkanika, Odisha Salt Water Crocodile
- Desert National Park, Rajasthan Great Indian Bustard
- Eravikulam, Kerala Hoolak Gibbon
Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched? 
(b)1 and 2 only
(c) 2 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Consider the following protected areas: 
Which of the above are declared Tiger Reserves?
(a)1 and 2 only
(b)1, 3 and 4 only
(c) 2, 3 and 4 only
(d) l, 2, 3 and 4
With reference to Bhitarkanika National Park, Which of the following is/are true?
- It is the second-largest mangrove ecosystem in India which is one of 26 Ramsar sites.
- It is drained by Brahmani and Baitarni rivers.
- Towards the east lies Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary.
Select the correct answer from the following codes
a. Only 1
b. Only 1 and 2
c. Only 2 and 3
d. 1, 2 and 3
Which of the following is/are true about mangroves?
- Mangroves grow well in estuaries and mudflats but not on salt marshes.
- Since mangroves grow well in estuaries it consists of number of tolerant species of plants.
- Mangrove swamps protect coastal areas from erosion tsunamis
Select the correct answer from the following codes:
a. 1 Only
b. 1 and 2 Only
c. 2 and 3 Only
d. 1, 2 and 3
Two important rivers — one with its source in Jharkhand (and known by a different name in Odisha), and another, with its source in Odisha — merge at a place only a short distance from the coast of Bay of Bengal before flowing into the sea. This is an important site of wildlife and biodiversity and a protected area.
Which one of the following could be this?
Given below are the statements relating with a National Park-
1 . The Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary lies to the east of the National Park.
2 . It lies in the estuarine region of Brahmani- Baitarani rivers.
3 . It was designated a Ramsar site in 2002.
The National Park described above is –
a . Simlipal National Park
b . Bhitarkanika National Park
c . Jaldapara National Park
d . Gorumara National Park
Answer – b
Which National Park is home to Saltwater crocodile –
a . Neora Valley National Park
b . Buxa National Park
c . Bhitarkanika National Park
d . Papikonda National Park
Answer – c
Which of the following statements about the olive ridley turtles is/are correct?
1. They are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
2. They live in warm waters of Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
3. The Coromandel Coast in India is the largest mass nesting site for the olive ridley turtles.
Select the correct Answer using the code given below.
a)1, 2 and 3
b)1 and 2 only
c)2 and 3 only
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles are?
i) the most abundant sea turtle in the world.
ii) endemic to tropical regions of the Pacific.
iii) the only sea turtles species to exhibit synchronous mass nesting.
iv) Which of the above statements is/are correct?
a) Only i
b) i and ii Only
c) i and iii Only
d) ii and iii Only
One of the world’s largest nesting grounds of Olive Ridley sea turtles are getting destroyed due to shrinking coastal space. Consider the following statements regarding the Olive Ridley sea turtles engendered status:
1) Olive Ridley sea turtle has found a place in Schedule – I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended 1991).
2) The sea turtle is protected under the ‘Migratory Species Convention’ but not CITES (Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna).
3) All the species of sea turtles in the coastal water of Odisha are listed as “endangered” as per IUCN Red Data Book.
Which of the above statements is correct?
a. 1 and 2
b. 2 and 3
c. 1 and 3
d. 1, 2 and 3
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ENVIRONMENT & ECO.: https://currentaffairsupsc.in/environment-ecology-and-biodiversity/