Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

Dr. Madhav Gadgil Report on Western Ghats


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Madhav Gadgil Report , Kasturirangan Report

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • A devastating landslide in Maharashtra’s Raigad district recently resulted in the loss of 27 lives and the destruction of an entire village.
  • This tragic incident has reignited discussions about the 2011 Dr Madhav Gadgil report on the conservation of the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats.

Dr Madhav Gadgil Report

  • Formation: In 2010, the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), chaired by ecologist Dr Madhav Gadgil, was appointed by Union Environment Ministry.

Key recommendations:

(1) Proposition of ESZs: The report proposed classifying 64 percent of the Western Ghats, spanning six states, into Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ) – ESZ 1, ESZ 2, and ESZ 3, and designating the entire region as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).

(2) Development Restrictions: The report recommended stopping almost all developmental activities, including mining, construction of thermal power plants, and dams, in ESZ 1. It also called for the phasing out of mining in ESZ 1 in Goa, banning new polluting industries in ESZ 1 and ESZ 2 in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts, and implementing zero pollution norms for existing industries.

(3) Sustainable Farming: The report advocated a ban on growing single commercial crops, such as tea, coffee, cardamom, rubber, banana, and pineapple, to promote sustainable farming practices in the Western Ghats.

(4) Establishing a dedicated Authority: It recommended decentralization and granting more powers to local authorities in the governance of the environment. The establishment of a Western Ghats Ecology Authority was proposed to manage the region’s ecology and ensure sustainable development.

(5) Certain prohibitions: The report urged the prohibition of genetically modified crops, plastic bags, Special Economic Zones, and new hill stations, along with the protection of river ecosystems and public lands.

Challenges in Implementation:

  • Stakeholder Resistance: The recommendations faced opposition from stakeholder states, fearing negative impacts on development and livelihoods.
  • Formation of Kasturirangan Panel: In response to the resistance, a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats, led by Dr K Kasturirangan, was constituted. This panel’s report, released in 2014, designated only 37 percent of the region as ecologically sensitive, significantly less than Gadgil’s proposal.
  • Revision and Splitting of ESZ: The Kasturirangan report divided the Western Ghats into cultural (human settlements) and natural (non-human settlements) regions. It suggested designating cultural lands as ESAs and introduced red, orange, and green categories for activities based on regulation levels.

Controversy and Criticism

  • Dr Madhav Gadgil criticized the Kasturirangan report, stating that it distorted and perverted the essence of his panel’s original recommendations.
  • He highlighted the importance of including local communities in economic decisions and the need for a more pro-nature approach.

Current Status

  • High-Powered Committee: By 2022, the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) announced the formation of a high-powered committee to conduct physical landscaping and submit a detailed report within a year.


  • The Raigad landslide tragedy and the discussions about the Dr Madhav Gadgil report underscore the significance of preserving the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats.
  • The delicate balance between conservation efforts and developmental requirements remains a complex issue.
  • It is essential for stakeholders, governments, and experts to collaborate and find sustainable solutions to protect this vital ecosystem and its biodiversity for future generations.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch