Unregulated Tourism at Kaas Plateau, Maharashtra.

Mandar Kulkarni

Kaas flower plateau is Maharashtra’s valley of flowers. The plateau is located between 1200 – 1240 metres and is about 25km from Satara town. As the monsoon sets in (Sept / Oct), the plateau and the surrounding hillsides come alive with millions of blooming wild flowers. The carpet changes colour every passing day through the monsoon.

This spectacle attracts many tourists and photographers resulting in unregulated tourism causing vehicular traffic, air and noise pollution and pressure on the fragile habitat. Visitors park their vehicles on the road — as you can see in the picture — as there is no designated parking. Other threats to the plateau include a proposal to ‘develop’ this region as a hill-station (with an airport and bigger roads), windmills encroaching the plateau, and even reports of illegal trading of endemic and rare flowers.

According to Dr. Sandeep Shrotri (author of the book Kaas — Plateau of Flowers and president of the NGO Ranwata Society, Satara), there are over 1,500 types of plants in Kaas – 156 botanical families, 680 genera, 1452 species, 400 medicinal plants, and about 33 endangered varieties in Kaas and the neighbouring Koyna area. Many of these are endemic ie found nowhere else. It thus imperative to protect this sensitive biodiversity hotspot.

MoEF recently submitted a proposal to UNESCO for declaring Kaas a World Heritage Site and studies by officials are underway currently.

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