ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Saving the Western Ghats

The Gadgil report challenges centralised approaches to saving the environment.

Commission a report and when it is ready, place it on a high shelf so that no one can reach it or read it. This seems to be the time-worn norm followed by successive governments in this country. So it comes as no surprise that after having asked the distinguished scientist Madhav Gadgil to head a committee to evaluate the ecological sensitivity of what is one of the world’s important biodiversity hotspots, the Western Ghats, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (EF) has received the final report without “accepting it”. Had it not been for the persistent petitioning by environmental groups and a query from the National Green Tribunal, the report would have remained inaccessible to the public.

The report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) is detailed, rich with data and comes up with important recommendations that need to be widely discussed and considered. Few will dispute the ecological significance of the Western Ghats that stretch over 1,500 km along the coast by the Arabian Sea, touch six states, 44 districts and 142 talukas. They are home to over 1,500 endemic species of flowers and plants and around 500 endemic species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. On this criterion alone the Western Ghats can be classified as “ecologically sensitive”. In addition, they are considered the “water-tower” of peninsular India as many of the rivers flowing through the southern part of India originate here.

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