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Wasteland-A threat to Survival and Quality of Human life

Dr. Amrit Patel

Land has been a stock of renewable resources and a source for human survival as well as improving the quality of human life. Since it has competing demand and multiple uses the rate of land degradation far exceeds its natural rate of regeneration. This means the degraded land is not naturally replaced within a human lifetime resulting in loss of opportunities for the next generation.

Extent of degradation

According to National Remote Sensing Agency's district wise mapping of wastelands, using satellite data, the wastelands in India is 63.85 million hectares. Besides deserts, drought prone, flood prone, flood prone and tribal areas have been subjected to severe forms of degradation. Estimates of the cost of soil degradation during 1980s and 1990s ranged from 11% to 26% of GDP. The cost of salinity and water logging is estimated at Rs. 120 billion to Rs. 270 billion. The Working Group on ''Watershed Development, Rain fed Farming and Natural Resource Management'' for the 10th Five Year Plan constituted by the Planning Commission had assessed that 88.5 million hectare degraded wasteland including rain fed areas would need development. The Working Group envisaged to cover the entire 88.5 million hectare land in four successive Five Year Plans, commencing from the 10th Plan to 13th Plan at an estimated cost of Rs. 727.5 billion (1994 price).

 
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