ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Extreme Flooding Events and Land Cover Change

This discussion is a response to Aniket Navalkar’s article “Extreme Flooding Events and Land Cover Change: An Empirical Assessment of Western India” (EPW, 16 October 2021).


The debate around development and ecological changes in the Western Ghats, one of the most fragile ecosystems of the world, seems to be un-ending. The environmentalists and ecologists have laboured hard to put the blame for some of the recent floods and landslides in the region on increased anthropogenic activities; it includes infrastructure development and land use changes, particularly deforestation, increased agricultural activities (MoEF 2011), and large dams (Gadgil 2019; Thakkar 2018). The pro-development lobby has, on the other hand, put the blame on extreme natural events like high-intensity rains. Some have also rejected the views that are largely based on a pure ecological perspective like those presented in the Gadgil Committee report (Pandit 2014). Often, blame is also on unscientific operations of large dams without having proper rule curves for the reservoirs (Thakkar 2018). Unfortunately, when the emotions run high, there is too little effort to look at things objectively and systematically examine what hard data says.

From that perspective, the article by Aniket Navalkar (2021) titled “An Empirical Assessment of Western India: Extreme Flooding Events and Land Cover Change,” which appeared in Economic & Politiclal Weekly, added a new dimension to the growing body of literature on the topic. In this discussion, we provide a quick critique of Navalkar’s article, looking particularly at the aspects that the article has covered and their merits, and identify some critical dimensions of the scientific debate about the hydrological impacts of land use changes that were not considered by the author in his analysis but are part of the international debate.

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Updated On : 5th Mar, 2022
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