• Recently, the Government of Karnataka has informed the Center government that the state is opposed to the Kasturirangan Committee report on Western Ghats.
  • The Kasturirangan committee report has proposed 37% of the total area of Western Ghats to be declared as Eco-Sensitive Area (ESA).


  • Two reports regarding western ghats are important i.e., Madhav Gadgil Committeealso known as The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) and Kasturirangan Committee


  • Gadgil committee divided the total area into 3 Ecologically Sensitive Area zones. 60% of the area comes under the highest-priority Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA-1). No kind of development activity is allowed to take place in this zone, according to the report. 25% of the area comes under the lowest-priority Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA-3), and development activities are allowed to be carried out in this area. 15% of the remaining area comes under ESA-2.
  • The Entire hill range was designated as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) by the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP).
  • It was classified by the panel in the report that all the 142 taluks in the Western Ghats have their boundaries into the Ecologically Sensitive Zones 1,2, and 3.
  • Ecologically Sensitive Zone 1 is of the highest priority, where most of the development activities like mining, thermal power plants, etc., are banned from taking place.
  • It is recommended by the Gadgil report that no new large-scale storage-based dams can be permitted in the Ecologically Sensitive Zone 1.


  • The Madhav Gadgil Committee faced major criticism for being more concerned with the environment than development. Their recommendations were considered too impractical to be implemented.
  • A complete eco-sensitive cover of the Western Ghats was asked by the Gadgil committee. This would affect the energy and developments fronts of many states.
  • It was also criticized for suggesting the constitution set up a new authority called WGEA, insisting that the environment could be protected under the existing laws as well.
  • A lot of revenue losses would be incurred by implementing their recommendation. The committee hasn’t provided any solution for that.
  • The report recommended against the construction of dams in the Western Ghats. It would be a huge blow on the power sector due to the increasing energy requirements of our country.
  • The most criticism and protests against the reports were mainly from sand mining and quarrying industries. Fear was created among the farmers of Kerala that the report was against them that the implementation of these recommendations would lose their livelihoods.


  • This committee is a 10-member working group that was set up to examine the WGEEP report (Gadgil report). This committee is referred to as a High-level working group (HLWG) and was headed by Kasturirangan.


  • The report states that only 37% of the total area of the Western Ghats (60,000 sq. km) be considered under Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA).
  • The report states that mining, quarrying and sand mining in Ecologically Sensitive Areas should be completely banned.
  • The report states that, as stated in the Gadgil committee, out of the cultural land that covers about 58% of the area in the Western Ghats is occupied by human settlements, agricultural fields and plantations, and natural landscaping 90% comes under Ecologically Sensitive Area.
  • The report also states that all the mining activities that are currently functioning in the ESA should be stopped within the next five years or when the lease expires, whichever comes first.
  • Without a detailed study, no thermal power projects or hydroelectric power projects would be cleared to proceed.
  • Highly polluting industries/ Red industries are banned in Ecologically Sensitive Areas.
  • The report has made several recommendations in favour of the farmers, like excluding inhabited areas and plantations that come under ESAs.
  • According to the report, 123 villages fall under Ecologically Sensitive Areas.


  • Aerial survey and remote sensing were used by the panel for marking lands in the Western Ghats by zones. Many errors have been caused in the report by using these techniques without examination of the ground reality.
  • The bureaucrats and forest officials held power instead of gram sabhas.
  • It is feared that if the Kasturirangan report is implemented, it will get the farmers evicted.
  • This report promotes the flourishment of mining and quarrying, which would be devastating to the environment. It would cause a shortage of water, pollution.
  • The report used erroneous methods, which included many villages under ESA as a result. But they were merely rubber plantations and wasn’t forest land.
  • The report was also incorrect in including areas under ESA that weren’t actually Ecologically Sensitive and excluding the areas that are actually Ecologically Sensitive.


  • Entire tract of hills from the Tapi to Kanyakumari is called Western Ghats.
  • Length of western ghat is approx. 1500km and Area is approx. 1.6 lakh sq.kms
  • About 30% of the area of the Western Ghats Region is under forests.
SIX States Three (important) Passes
Gujarat (portions of Dang Forests). Thalghat
Maharashtra Bhorghat
Karnataka Palghat
Tamil Nādu  



Western Eastern
Almost Continuous hills Discontinuous hills (Because of River deltas)
Avg. height: 1500 to 2000 m lower: 500-700 m
Highest peak: AnaiMudi (Kerala) Dewodi Munda (Odisha) (as per Majid Hussein). Update: Highest peak in Eastern ghat is Jindhagada peak Andhra- it is few meters taller than Dewodi Munda.
Fast flowing rivers, donot form delta Long broad rivers, form delta.
Narmada-Tapi Krishna, Kaveri, Godawai (these origin from Western Ghats though) and Mahanadi
Flow into Arabian sea. Into Bay of Bengal.
Almost Continuous hills Discontinuous hills (Because of River deltas)


  • We observe difference between forest types on two slopes of Western ghats i.e., Western Slope and Eastern Slope
Western Slope Eastern Slope
Rainfall: 200cm 70-200cm
Tropical Evergreen+ Semi Evergreen. Moist Deciduous (also known as Monsoon forest)
·         Rosewood,

·         Mahogony

·         Ebony

·         Aini

·         Cedar

·         Hollywood ock

·         Kail

·         Teak

·         Sal

·         Shisham

·         Mahua

·         Sandalwood

·         Mahua



  • Three main rivers of South India= Krishna, Godavari and Kaveri. They originate from Western Ghats.
  • Traditionally these water resources were used to irrigate the valleys for paddy and arecanut cultivation.
  • But later, construction of major river valley projects =irrigation + power generation.
  • The steep slopes to the western Ghats = ideal for constructing dams and hydel power generation.
  • In recent years construction of resorts and hill stations started around lakes and rivers. E.g., Amba Valley, Lavasa.
  • Rivers flowing from the Western Ghats drain almost 40% of land in India.
  • Roughly 250 million people depend on these rivers.
  • From Western Ghats, rivers originate and flow in both directions: West and East.


  • The Western Ghats is one of the biodiversity hotspots of the country.
  • The wild relatives pepper, cardamom, mango, jackfruit and plantain=found here.
  • Thousands of endemics species of flowering plants, insects, trees, fishes, butterflies, dragonflies, mollusks (land snails) present.
  • Notable wildlife is
    • Tiger
    • Elephant
    • The Indian Bison
    • Lion-Tailed Macaque
    • Wynad Laughing Thrush (Songbirds)
    • Travancore Tortoise
    • Uropeltid Snakes
    • Several Species of Legless Amphibians.

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