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Ecological status of Wastelands

Before putting the wastelands into proper productive use, it is better to assess their ecological status.

i. Wastelands are situated in most drier parts of the country.

ii. Annual rainfall may not be more than 700 mm.

iii. The soil will be either sterile or alkaline, to saline.

iv. In sloppy topography, the soils must have been subjected to erosion, exposing rocks, or strewn with boulders.

v. The region might be subjected to heavy grazing.

vi. The regions are surrounded by rich population of poor people, and subjected to heavy illicit hacking and encroachments.

vii. Keeping the above in view, the following steps can be taken up.

viii. Provision of complete protection from man and Luis animals.

ix. Existing peoples participation to the maximum.

x. Selection of suitable species for afforestation, or other productive uses.

xi. Adoption of proper techniques for success, and adoption of modern scientific techniques.

Classification and Estimation of wastelands

Estimates of degraded land vary considerably, and the extent of land degradation is yet to be determined precisely. Estimates of wastelands differ considerably due to definitional and coverage in consistencies. According to land use statistics for 2002, published by Dept. of Agriculture, the current estimates of cultivatable wastelands are about 13.90 m.ha. However, the information on land use statistics does not clearly indicate the extent of wastelands and degraded and, which could be restored with some interventions.

National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) carried out a District wise mapping of wastelands on 1:50,000 scale using satellite data. The total wastelands in the country were placed at 63.85 m. ha. They occur in different agro climatic and soil zones of the country. The following table given the data on total extent of wastelands available in the states.

These wastelands form the core of degraded lands in India. They are in urgent need of attention and have to be accorded the highest priority for treatment.

Some of the most degraded lands in the country are CPRs (Common Property Resources). CPRs are the resources on which people have an equal right of use. These resources include community pastures, community forests, wastelands, and common dumping and threshing grounds. Inspite of concerted efforts to check deforestation, and various afforestation schemes taken up during successive plan periods large tracts of forest continue to be classified as degraded. The 2005 Forest Survey of India report, placed the actual forest cover at only 20.60 percent of total geographical area as against the recorded forest area of 23 percent. In Andhra Pradesh, the Forest Survey of India report, places the forest cover at 16.13 percent, of the total forest area 31 m. ha. suffers from some form of degradation and 14.06 m. ha. of forest suffer from extreme degradation and are part of 63.85 m.ha. of wastelands reported by NRSA.

Table 1. State wise Wastelands of India (Area in sq. km)

S.N.

State

No. of Districts Covered

Total Geog. Area of districts covered

Total

Wastelands area in districts covered

% of

wastelands to total geog. Area

1

Andhra Pradesh

23

275068.00

51750.19

18.81

2

Arunachal Pradesh

13

83743.00

18326.25

21.88

3

Assam

23

78438.00

20019.17

25.52

4

Bihar

55

173877.00

20997.55

12.08

5

Goa

2

3702.00

613.27

16.57

6

Gujarat

25

196024.00

43021.28

21.95

7

Haryana

19

44212.00

3733.98

8.45

8

Himachal Pradesh

12

55673.00

31659.00

56.87

9

Jammu & Kashmir

14

101387.00

65444.24

65.55

10

Karnataka

27

191791.00

20839.28

10.87

11

Kerala

14

38863.00

1448.18

3.73

12

Madhya Pradesh

62

443446.00

69713.75

15.72

13

Maharashtra

32

307690.00

53489.08

17.38

14

Manipur

9

22327.00

12948.62

58.00

15

Meghalaya

7

22429.00

9904.38

44.16

16

Mizoram

3

21081.00

4071.68

19.31

17

Nagaland

7

16579.00

8404.10

50.69

18

Orissa

30

155707.00

21341.71

13.71

19

Punjab

17

50362.00

2228.40

4.42

20

Rajasthan

32

342239.00

105639.11

30.87

21

Sikkim

4

7096.00

3569.58

50.30

22

Tripura

4

10486.00

1276.03

12.17

23

Tamil Nadu

29

130058.00

23013.90

17.20

24

Uttar Pradesh

83

294411.00

38772.80

13.17

25

West Bengal

18

88752.00

5718.48

6.44

26

Union territories

20

10973.00

574.30

5.23

Total

584

3166414.00

638518.31

20.17

In addition to the wastelands identified by NRSA, other areas such as deserts, drought prone, flood prone, and tribal areas have been subjected to severe forms of degradation. The capacity of these lands is limited due to environmental factors. Pressures of livestock and human population have further compounded the problems. Table 2 given below, provides estimates the degraded land on the basis of factors that covered the degradation. Attempts were made by NWDB to identify the total wastelands and concluded that an area of 129.57 m. ha. (including degraded forest area) and 93.69 m.ha. (Without degraded forest area) is available. However, the estimate given by NRSA, is fairly realistic.

Table 2. Causes of Land Degradation

Causes of Degradation

Area

(million hectares)

Percentage of total area

Water erosion

107.12

61.70

Wind erosion

17.79

10.24

Ravines

3.97

2.28

Salt-affected

7.61

4.38

Water logging

8.52

4.90

Mines & Quarry wastes

-

-

Degraded land due to shifting cultivation

4.91

2.82

Degraded forest lands

19.49

11.22

Special problems

2.73

1.57

Coastal sandy areas

1.46

0.84

Total

173.64

100.00

 
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