IISC REPORT ON CAUVERY BASIN (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     15th January 2024        

Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has served notices to Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments, based on a report by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) that has highlighted the massive reduction of green cover in the Cauvery basin over the past five decades.

Cauvery Basin

  • About: It is the largest river in the Karnatka state.
  • Known as:  Dakshina Ganga (the Ganges of the South) and considered one of the sacred rivers of India.
  • Origin: Bramahagiri Hills near Madikeri in Coorg.
  • Tributaries: Harangi, Hemavathi, Lakshmanatirtha, Kabini, Shimsha, Arkavati, Suvarnavathi or Honnuholé,  Bhavani, Lokapavani, Noyyal.

Key Points

  • According to the IISc report, the Cauvery basin has witnessed a staggering loss of 12,850 square kilometres (sq km) of green cover between 1965 and 2016. 
  • The NGT expressed deep concern over the extensive agricultural and horticultural activities covering 73.5 per cent of the Cauvery basin, with only 18 per cent remaining as forested areas and dense forests limited to just 13 per cent of the region.
  • The report highlighted that natural green areas have significantly diminished, declining from 28,154 sq km to 15,345 sq km over the past 50 years. 
  • In Karnataka alone, 57 per cent of the green cover, equivalent to 9,664 sq km, has been lost. Tamil Nadu has seen a loss of 29 per cent (2,905 sq km) and Kerala has lost 27 per cent (279 sq km) of its green cover during the same period.
  • The forest area in Bandipur National Park has decreased by 15.19 per cent in 50 years, primarily due to development activities and forest fires. 
  • Nagarhole National Park has experienced an 11 per cent decline in forest cover due to human intervention and increased horticulture activities.