Calamities hit Kerala one after the other, but Gadgil report dissidents firm on stance
Exactly a year after the ‘flood of a century’ hit Kerala, the state is once again fighting severe upheaval induced by rains. Unlike last time, deadly landslides caused by the rains have taken a toll on the villages in the Western Ghats in northern Kerala. This has once again impelled Kerala to remember a professor, Madhav Gadgil, and a report prepared by a panel headed by him.
The report by the Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel, commonly known as the Gadgil report, published in 2011 highlighted the ecological sensitivity of the Western Ghats. It proposed classifying regions in the Western Ghats into Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZs) and highlighted the need to protect the region by restricting the activities there. But many people living along the high ranges of the Western Ghats in Kerala, with the Catholic Church playing a prominent role behind protests, outright opposed the proposals and conducted multiple demonstrations against the Gadgil report, calling it impractical. Even the major political fronts of Kerala – the then ruling UDF led by the Congress and the CPI(M) led LDF in the opposition – had supported the protesters.
The uproar subsided in the subsequent months as the report was not implemented and another committee headed by K Kasturirangan was formed to examine the Gadgil report. And in the years that followed, Kerala seemed to have forgotten about Madhav Gadgil and his report on the Western Ghats, all until 2018 when the devastating deluge hit Kerala.