Things Are Getting Worse In WESTERN GHATS”: Madhav Gadgil – Free PDF Download


  • Gadgil and the report prepared by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) headed by him are back in news after over two dozen people lost their lives in landslides and flash floods occurred in the past in the hilly regions of Western Ghats in central Kerala districts of Kottayam and Idukki.

  • “Things are getting worse in Western Ghats”, says eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil as he urged the people on the “grassroots” to “sufficiently pressure” the elected representatives to take measures to end disasters in areas along its traverse including Kerala.
  • The report, popularly known as Gadgil committee report submitted to the Union Environment Ministry in 2011, suggested steps to preserve the ecologically frail Ghats, a treasure trove of wildlife containing more than 30 per cent of all species of plant, fish, reptile, amphibian, bird and mammal found in the whole country.
  • Gadgil, while blaming the ecologically damaging activities like stone quarrying for disasters happening in Western Ghats, dismissed the suggestion that the time is over for implementing the report to protect the hills.
  • “That is of course a completely nonsensical statement because things are getting worse there. No question of time is over for implementing this,” he said, responding to a query.
  • Asked why such disasters are taking place only in Kerala part of Western Ghats, Gadgil said, “that is a misunderstanding” and states like Goa and Maharashtra are experiencing the same year after year.

What the report talks about

  • The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) was appointed by Jairam Ramesh in February 2010 during his tenure as the Union Environment Minister in the Congress-led UPA to draw up a roadmap for preserving the biodiversity of the ecologically sensitive hills.
  • The report, popularly known as Gadgil committee report, was submitted to the Union Environment Ministry in August 2011 and suggested steps to preserve the ecologically frail Ghats, a treasure trove of wildlife containing more than 30% of all species of plant, fish, reptile, amphibian, bird and mammal found in the whole country.
  • The report has recommended protection of Western Ghats by designating the entire hilly region as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).

  • According to Gadgil, the WGEEP report should be implemented with the complete participation of the people and the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution mandate people’s participation in decision making.
  • The way forward is to actually implement (the WGEEP report) through proper democratic process. The way forward is that the communities living in Western Ghats should assert their constitutional democratic rights
  • It also recommended the constitution of a Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA),as a statutory authority under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, with the powers under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Eco-Sensitive Areas

  • Eco-Sensitive Areas (ESAs)are located within 10 kmsaround Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • ESAs are notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) underEnvironment Protection Act 1986.
  • The basic aim is to regulate certain activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries so as to minimise the negative impacts of such activities on the fragile ecosystem encompassing the protected areas.

  • The Kasturirangan panel submitted its report to the Environment Ministry reducing the area to be protected ecologically in Western Ghats to only 37%. Slamming the Kasturirangan panel report, Gadgil alleged that it advocated sabotage of democratic process, which is the essence of his WGEEP report.
  • There is strongly objection to people saying the Kasturirangan report was a dilution (WGEEP). It was a perversion because the report prepared by Kasturirangan (panel) has specifically said that the local communities have no role in decision making. This is against our Constitution


  • The Western Ghats have been formed by the subduction of the Arabian basin and tilting of the peninsula in east and northeast during Himalayan uplift.
  • Thus, it wears the look of block mountains in the west and the slope appears to be escarpments and stairway formation.
  • The Western Ghats is one of the eight hotspots of biological diversity in the world and is spread across six statesGujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of the eight “hottest hot-spots” of biological diversity in the world.
  • According to UNESCO, the Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas. They influence Indian monsoon weather patterns by intercepting the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep in from the south-west during late summer

  • It stretches from Tapi valley to Kanyakumari.
  • It is called Sahyadri till 11° N.
  • It has three sections.
  1. Northern Western Ghats
  2. Middle Sahyadri(CentralWestern Ghats)
  3. SouthernWestern Ghats
  • The Western Ghats are continuous range of mountains
  • There are different kind of forest found in western Ghats like Evergreen Forest, Moist Deciduous, Scrub Jungles, Sholas
  • Anamudi is the highest peak in the western ghats

 Protected Areas

  • Western Ghats is home to India’s two biosphere reserves, 13 National parks, several wildlife sanctuaries and many Reserve Forests.
  • The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve comprising 5500 km² of the evergreen forests of Nagarahole, deciduous forests of Bandipur National Park and Nugu in Karnataka and adjoining regions of Wayanad and Mudumalai National Park in the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu forms the largest contiguous protected area in the Western Ghats. The Silent Valley National Park in Kerala is among the last tracts of virgin tropical evergreen forest in India.

Way Forward

  • There is an urgent need to examine the mechanisms by which land use change affects biodiversity, which in turn will improve our understanding of how human-modified landscapes need to be managed in order to sustain and improve their biodiversity conservation value.
  • There is a need for better understanding of the role of biodiversity in ecosystem functions and related ecosystem services. This would also help in eliciting greater civil society support and enhanced political will to conserve the Western Ghats.

Consider the following statements:

1.The Western Ghats are higher than the Eastern Ghats.

  1. The Western Ghats are comparatively discontinuous and irregular hills.
  2. Mahendragiri is the highest peak in the Western Ghats.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  • 1 only
  • (b) 1 and 2 only
  • (c) 2 and 3 only
  • (d) 1, 2 and 3




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