Dams threaten Western Ghats' freshwater eco-system, says study

 The proposed construction of dams in the Western Ghats, including Gundia hydel project in Hassan district, will seriously affect the diverse freshwater ecosystems of the region, according to a study report.

The study, ‘Status and Distribution of Freshwater Biodiversity,’ conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in collaboration with the Zoo Outreach Organisation, states that the water abstraction, water diversion and construction of dams are major threats to freshwater molluscs.

“There are several small and medium dams that have been proposed for hydro-electric projects. The proposed Gundia hydel project would submerge almost 1,900 acres of primary evergreen forest and seriously affect the river ecosystem. If these projects are implemented, they could seriously affect the aquatic molluscs across the region,” the study states.

The report suggests improved enforcement of pollution laws, best management practices for crop and livestock production and effective effluent treatment in the industries located in the region to restore the ecosystem.

Only seven species of molluscs from the Western Ghats region have been assessed as threatened.

The Western Ghats in Karnataka and Maharashtra, the upper Tungabhadra catchment area, including rivers Tunga and Varada, and a few west-flowing rivers including the Sharavathi are home to the highest number of threatened species of flora and fauna, the report states.

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