IN318
Farakka Barrage and adjoining area


Year of compilation: 2004

Site description
Farakka Barrage, constructed in 1974-75 over the River Ganga, about 20 km from the border of Bangladesh has created a large reservoir, which stores water for irrigation. The overall span of the barrage is 1,200 m. The proposed IBA site starts from Farakka Barrage up to the Manikchak Ghat of Malda district (West Bengal). The maximum depth of water near the barrage is 25 m. From the onset of winter, the water starts to recede in the river and several chaurs or riverine islets emerge. The birds use these chaurs for day roosting and other diurnal activities. Around mid-February, as the chaurs reach a considerable size, the villagers of nearby villages reclaim them for agricultural purposes. On some chaurs, large reed beds are present that are used by migratory terrestrial birds such as reed warblers for foraging and roosting.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Nearly 70 species of birds have been reported from this IBA (Samiran Jha in litt. 2002).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The area supports a healthy population of the highly endangered Gangetic Dolphin Platanista gangetica (Sinha 2000). Other major species of conservation concern are Gharial Gavialis gangeticus, Marsh Crocodile Crocodylus palustris and Otters Lutra spp.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
MAIN THREATS: Agricultural intensification and expansion; Fisheries.

More than 40 species of commercial fish are found in the reservoir. Since its development nearly 30 years ago, the Farrakka Barrage has become an extremely important inland fisheries centre where every year hundreds of tons of fish is netted. However, this barrage has played havoc with the indigenous fauna, especially the Gangetic Dolphin and Gharial. The barrage has also obstructed the movement of nutritionally valuable fish such as the Hilsa Hilsa ilisha. Sinha (2000) has discussed the adverse impact of this barrage in the context of the highly endangered Gangetic Dolphin. As far as waterfowl is concerned, this barrage has replaced some of the natural wetlands lost under cultivation.

Acknowledgements
Key contributor: Samiran Jha.


Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Farakka Barrage and adjoining area. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 13/08/2022.