Causes and Consequences

India has only 2.4% of the world's geographical area and 0.5% grazing area but supports over 16% of the worlds population and over 18% of worlds cattle population. The degradation of environment in the fragile Indian sub-tropical ecosystem is basically attributed to increasing biotic and abiotic pressure; absence of adequate investment and appropriate management practices; high rate of population growth and high incidence of poverty in rural areas; over exploitation of natural resources; the break down of traditional institutions for managing common property resources and failure of new institutions to fil the vacuum and faulty land use practices. All these have resulted into soil and wind erosion; depletion of natural resources; lower productivity; groundwater depletion; shortage of drinking water; reduction in species diversity and increase in the extent of wastelands.

Ninth Five Year Plan

Two centrally sponsored schemes for soil conservation and integrated watershed management in the catchments of flood prone regions introduced in 1961 and 1982 aimed at enhancing productivity of degraded lands, minimizing siltation of reservoirs and chances of floods. During the 9th Plan both these schemes were merged into a new one soil conservation for enhancing productivity of degraded lands in the catchments of river valley projects and flood prone rivers. The scheme is being implemented in 53 catchments having a total area of 113.40 million hectare spread over in 27 States. The scheme for reclamation of alkali soils introduced in 1985-86 was extended to all States in the 9th Plan. It attempts to improve land and crop productivity by taking up production of crops, including horticulture, fuel wood plantation and fodder species suitable to the soil conditions, integrated wasteland development project being implemented, since 1989-90, is based on village/micro watershed plans, which are prepared after taking into consideration the land capability, site conditions and local needs of the people. The scheme also aims at rural employment besides enhancing the contents of people's participation in the development process at all stages, which is ensured by providing modalities for equitable and sustainable sharing of benefits and usufructs arising from such projects. The major activities undertaken are [i] in situ soil and moisture conservation measures like terracing, bunding, trenching, vegetative barriers and drainage line treatment [ii] planting and sowing of multipurpose trees, shrubs, grasses, legumes and pasture land development [iii] encouraging natural regeneration [iv] promotion of agro forestry and horticulture [v] wood substitution and fuel wood conservation measures [vi] drainage line treatment by vegetative and engineering structures [vii] afforestation of degraded forest and nonforest wastelands [ix] development and conservation of common property resources.

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