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Thatcham charity helps clean up Indian river

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The Thames River Restoration Trust has pledged to spend £210,000 helping to clean up the River Ganges

A THATCHAM charity has pledged to spend £210,000 helping to clean up the River Ganges, bringing it up to the standard of the Thames.

The Thames River Restoration Trust, based at the Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, will work with small villages in India to help protect rare freshwater fish that are being destroyed by pollution and overfishing.

The director of the trust, Robert Oates, said that the project would raise living standards and help save some of the world's rarest freshwater wildlife, such as the Ganges river turtle, Ganges river dolphin and the fish-eating gharial crocodile.

He added that The International River Foundation, which promotes the sustainable management of the world's rivers, lakes and wetlands, would use the results of the project

to help restore other rivers around the world.

He said: “Through this project the Thames and Ganges will help each other and help save many other rivers around the world.”

People from 20 villages along 1,600km of the upper Ganges and the Yamuna tributary will be helped to restore their stretch by taking simple, effective steps such as planting trees to stabilise riverbanks and restoring ponds to treat waste water.

They will also be helped to adopt eco-friendly agriculture to boost food production, a United Nations recommendation, and learn how to rescue young turtles and crocodiles and rear them in hatcheries for release in protected areas.

Poverty-stricken fishermen will be given rope weaving machines to provide an alternative livelihood for their families, and to reduce the pressure on fish stocks, while school classes will teach the importance of the river for people and wildlife.

As part of the project, scientists from India will visit the UK to learn how the trust helped restore the River Thames, from biologically dead in the 1950s to one of the cleanest urban rivers in the world.

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