INDIAN LANDS TURNING INTO DESERTS
Fast desertification of lands must be stopped. The ‘Green Wall of China Project’ can be a guiding line for the Indian Government to halt desertification across the country. For this, prompt legislative measures should be initiated
As India battles climate change amid rising temperatures and pollution levels, the threat posed by desertificationhas been slowly but steadily rising. Currently, 25 per cent of India’s total land is undergoing desertification while 32 per cent is facing degradation. This has severely affected the productivity, livelihood and food security of millions of people across the country.
As much as 105.19 million hectares (Mha) of the country’s total geographical area of 328.73 Mha is being degraded, while 82.18 Mha is undergoing desertification. Desertification is majorly occurring in the forms of land degradation including soil erosion, which accounts for over 71 per cent of the total degradation, and wind erosion that comprises another10.24 per cent. Other causes for desertification include water logging and salinity-alkalinity.
According to studies, nearly 68 per cent of the country is prone to drought, due to the impact of climate change, particularly in dry lands. These conditions are being made worse due to land desertification that is on the rise, thanks to deforestation and unsustainable fuel wood and fodder extraction.
Besides this, the shifting of cultivation, encroachment into forest lands and recurrent forest fires have taken a toll on the condition of the land. Additionally, the problems of cattle overgrazing, inadequate soil conservation measures, and improper crop rotation combined with indiscriminate use of agro-chemicals has only accelerated the deterioration of land.
Agriculture is turning out to be the single largest casualty of land desertification. More than a quarter of India’s land is gradually turning to deserts and the rate of degradation of agricultural areas is increasing according to an analysis of satellite images collated by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Furthermore, according to the ISRO report, land desertification and degradation — defined in terms of loss of productivity —is estimated at 96 million hectares, or nearly 30 per cent of Indian land.
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