In response to the draft notification issued by the central government in March 2024, the Karnataka state government is preparing to redefine the boundaries of the eco-sensitive zone. This is in accordance with the conservation efforts for the Western Ghats ecological microzone. The Union Environment Ministry has required states, including Karnataka, to give their consent before the final notification is released.
Ten years ago, a 10-member committee was established by the central government to assess the conservation report for the Western Ghats. The committee, led by former ISRO chairman Kasthurirangan, presented its findings which were accepted by the central government. However, Karnataka has not yet clarified its position on the matter. The Western Ghats, which cover Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, are recognized as an ecologically sensitive area, spanning a total of 59,940 square kilometers. In Karnataka, several districts including Shimoga, Belagavi, Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Chikkamagaluru, Udupi, Hassan, Kodagu, Mysuru, and Chamaraja Nagar are encompassed within the scope, with 1,576 villages falling under the eco-sensitive zone.
The state government is currently making efforts to only include uninhabited regions in the micro-zone, in order to avoid any potential adverse effects. Ishwara Khandre, the Forest Minister, emphasized the need to strike a balance between preserving biodiversity and safeguarding the traditional way of life in the Western Ghats. To address this matter, the central government has sent an expert committee, headed by Sanjay Kumar, to hold discussions with the state government, local representatives, and residents of the Western Ghats regarding the Kasthurirangan report. The committee has already started discussions with government representatives and will proceed to consult with representatives and residents who are against the implementation.