Why only 37% Western Ghats ecologically sensitive?
Whole region of the Western Ghats need protection
| by Ram Kumar Mishra, Mumbai(India), April 29, 2013
Last day, an environment expert panel had submitted its report to the Environment Ministry, set up
by the Union Government to study the Madhav Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats. The
panel headed by the Space scientist and Planning Commission member K. Kasturirangan recommended
that 37 per cent of the Western Ghats are highly sensitive zone that spread about 60,000 square
kilometers across the six states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka,Kerala and Tamil Nadu) of the
country. According the committee report this area must be announced no entry zone for the
commercial activities, thermal or hydro‐power plant, polluting industry and housing plans. Kasturirangan
committee has her against advice from Gadgil committee. Where, the Gadgil Committee had
recommended that Western Ghats should be divided into three levels, according to the eco‐sensitive
zone. Each of them should have different restrictions as per requirement. Prior to this the Gadgil report
said that cultivation, plantation and habitations should keep outside of the restrictive ambit‐ called
Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) under in the environment protection Act, 1976.
K. Kasturirangan report does oppose the prior recommendations and suggests that 90% of the
Western Ghats are hilly region and has complex bio‐diversity. It should be taken 37% of the whole
region of the Western Ghats into ESA zone that would cover about 60,000 square kilometers areas. In
this area about 4,156 villages would come across the six states. Besides this, the committee does not
oppose the dam construction and hydroelectric projects with the strict conditions and regulations. The
committee suggests that in the two districts of Maharashtra state Ratnagiri and Sindhudug should be
completely banned on commercial activities like mining and pollution plant and in the other ESA zones
regulations must be followed up strictly. It is perhaps only one point of view that this committee has
stained with, that is needed to strict ecological control over the Western Ghats complex requiring
changes and regulations on the agricultural practices.
|Ram Kumar Mishra shows the area, taken from the Hill areas of Mumbai, where cutting the hill stones for preparing building construction sites. photos: Shiv Kumar Mishra
During this changing atmosphere around the globe, Government of India has focused on conservation
of Western Ghats’ rich bio‐diversity and began to think about its destruction. Last year; the Union
Government had appointed nine member environmental expert committee headed by Madhav Gadgil.
When Gadgil committee submitted its report states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala had risen
concerned about the committee’s recommendations. To review the Gadgil committee report once
again Government had appointed K. Kasturirangan Committee.
After the report submitted to the respective ministry, many environment activists stand against it,
saying that this report has been strained and makes a narrow way to escape the industrialists and do
efforts to save the mining companies; involve in such commercial activities. They blame on Government
to pave the way for national and international mining companies, which is utilized of the country’s
natural wealth. For example the new committee gave the green signal to the Athirapally hydroelectric
project in Kerala and Gundiya dam in Karnataka.
All of us; well introduced with a changing period of monsoon in Mumbai and its suburban regions
with rest of the regions in India. Environment experts describe about the hills in and around the Mumbai
being destroyed by builders supporting with local leaders and greedy officers. Sahyadri mountain range
along the western side has thirty nine properties including parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserve
forests. This mountain range starts from the Gujarat and goes to Karnataka about 1,600 kilometer area.
It is a UNESCO world heritage site, called hottest hot spot in the world. Like the Sahyadri mountain
range there are two more hills Nilgiri (cover Tamil Nadu and Kerala) and Animals Hills (cover Kerala) and
32 peaks under these three hills are in Western Ghats.
Covering 160,000 square kilometers (62,000 square miles) range of Western Ghats have been
announced UNESCO heritage in 2012 evaluating its eco and bio richness. Here, it can be just imagined
that it has over 5000 species flowers plants and 508 species birds like many undiscovered species lives in
But, now it is our moral duty to protect our bio‐diversity and an established geological system by
keeping out ourselves from a mean and selfish ideology. It needs a wide awareness program to reflect
merits and demerits of conservation of bio‐diversity.