Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 291–301 | Cite as

Hills, dams and forests. Some field observations from the Western Ghats

  • Madhav Gadgil
Rural Technology


Man’s attempts to intensify the use of natural resources can often result in the exhaustion of the resource or deterioration of other interacting resources. The single-minded pursuit of the development of the water resources of the rivers of the Western Ghats shows many examples of this view, particularly in the unnecessary destruction of the dwindling forest resources. This destruction may be caused by (i) problems o f rehabilitation, e.g. the Ramanagar settlement of the Kalinadi project (ii) the impact of labourers, e.g. the destruction of evergreen sholas on the Upper Nilgiri plateau (iii) the access to encroachers and poachers, e.g. Panshet and Kalinadi (iv) faulty planning, e.g. Linganamakki and Kalinadi. This destruction of forest cover has had a number of deleterious consequences in (i) worsening the shortages of forest resources, (ii) hastening the siltation of the reservoirs, (iii) ecological imbalances as in the rapid spread ofEupatorium in the Kalinadi project area and (iv) the decimation of biological diversity, as in the great reduction of evergreen forests in the Western Ghats, threatening the survival of lion-tailed macaque and the extinction of grass species,Hubbardia heptaneuron. It is stressed that the only sustainable and therefore true development is environmentally sound development. The interests of the weaker sections of the society often provide a good index of the soundness of the development from an environmental point of view. The planning of the development process with this perspective is a great scientific and technological challenge that must be taken up.


Environmental impact rehabilitation deforestation dams hydroelectric projects irrigation projects 


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Madhav Gadgil
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Theoretical StudiesIndian Institute of ScienceBangaloreIndia

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