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Western Ghats

Western Ghats

The Supreme Court has asked the Environment Ministry to respond to a petition that calls for court intervention to safeguard the Western Ghats from harm.

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  • The Western Ghats, also called Sahyadri Hills, are like a treasure trove of cool plants and animals.
  • Depending on where you are, these hills go by different names – Sahyadri in northern Maharashtra, Sahya Parvatham in Kerala, and Nilgiri malai in Tamil Nadu.
  • Picture this – the area between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea in the north is the Konkan Coast. It’s like nature’s own coastal paradise.
  • Moving down, we’ve got the Kanara region in the central part. Down south, it’s known as the Malabar region or the Malabar Coast.
  • The hilly areas at the base of the Ghats in Maharashtra are called Desh. Meanwhile, in central Karnataka, they’re known as Malanadu.
  • These hills are a big deal. They’re a UNESCO World Heritage Site, like the VIPs of nature.
  • Imagine being in one of the eight coolest spots on Earth for different plants and animals. That’s the Western Ghats – a superstar in the world of biodiversity.


  • The Western Ghats, stretching 1600 km along India’s west coast from Tapi River in the north to Kanyakumari in the south, are a beautiful mountain range.
  • Passing through six states – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu – they go by different local names like Sahyadri and Nilgiris.
  • Known for their tropical humid climate, the Western Ghats experience more rainfall on the western side, thanks to the windward effect.
  • In 2012, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recognized the Western Ghats as a world heritage site.
  • This lush region is not just a geographical wonder but also a testament to the diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity it houses.


  • Water Source for Major Rivers: The Western Ghats, a mountain range in India, act as a crucial water source for several perennial rivers in peninsular India. Notably, they contribute to the flow of three major eastward-flowing rivers: Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri.
  • Monsoon Influence: These mountains significantly impact the Indian monsoon weather patterns, leading to heavy rainfall along the western coast of the country.
  • Carbon Sequestration: The Western Ghats, with their diverse forest ecosystems, play a vital role in sequestering carbon. They neutralize approximately 4 million tonnes of carbon annually, which is roughly 10% of the total emissions neutralized by all forests in India.
  • Biodiversity Hotspot: Recognized as one of the eight biodiversity hotspots globally, the Western Ghats harbor a rich variety of plant and animal species. This region boasts high levels of endemism, with an estimated 52% of tree species and 65% of amphibians found here being unique to the Western Ghats.


  • Rampant Mining: Mining activities in the Western Ghats have skyrocketed without regard for laws, causing severe harm to the environment and disrupting local communities.
  • Environmental and Social Fallout: The unchecked mining has led to landslides, harmed water sources, and damaged agriculture. This, in turn, has negatively impacted the lives and livelihoods of the people in these areas.
  • Forest Produce Extraction: Communities living in and around protected areas in the Western Ghats rely on these areas for extracting forest resources. This practice serves both their daily needs and commercial interests.
  • Livestock Grazing Concerns: Livestock grazing in and around protected areas poses a significant threat by causing habitat degradation throughout the Western Ghats.
  • Plantation Replacements: Traditional agroforestry in the Western Ghats is giving way to plantations like tea, coffee, rubber, and monocultures, including the recently introduced oil palm. This shift is replacing native species and affecting biodiversity.
  • Human Settlement Encroachment: Human settlements, both inside and outside protected areas, pose a major threat to the Western Ghats. This encroachment has significant implications for the region’s ecological balance.
  • Impact of Hydropower Projects: Large dam projects in the Western Ghats come at a massive environmental cost, affecting the delicate balance of the ecosystem and causing widespread environmental consequences.

Way Forward

We have to strike a balance between protecting nature and promoting development. It’s important to make sure that the things we do to make a living don’t harm the diversity of plants and animals around us. We need to find ways to support our livelihoods without negatively impacting the environment.

Read Also: Western Disturbances – UPSC

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