India to set voluntary target to combat land degradation

"Nearly 30% of land is degraded and we are committed to address this challenge"

land-degradation-waste-dumped-ousehold-waste-in-acacia-grove-shut Dumping of household waste in acacia grove | Shutterstock

Nearly 30 per cent of India's land is degraded and a voluntary target setting for land degradation neutrality is underway, an official from the environment ministry has said.

Speaking at a land desertification workshop, organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) ahead of the COP 14 on the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) scheduled next month, Anuradha Singh, Director, Desertification Cell, Ministry of Environment said, "Nearly 30 per cent of India's land is degraded and we are committed to address this challenge."

 She said, "Budgets available for all land and water related schemes in Centre and States are enough to solve the problem, but we need to bring convergence to utilise these resources better. The process of voluntary target setting for Land Degradation Neutrality under the UNCCD is underway and should conclude over the next few months."

 At the workshop, held last week, Umakant, Joint Secretary, Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development said that the most effective principle of degraded area development is conservation and efficient use of natural resources.

 "It can best be achieved through watershed development adopting ridge-to-valley approach. We have today come to 20.45 million hectare of area which has been treated and brought under the category of protective variation. As of now, we are planning to go for another 62-63 million hectare of land that needs to be treated, he said.

 According to a statement released by TERI, Niti Aayog adviser Ashok Kumar Jain pointed out that various measures have been taken to tackle land degradation and water use efficiency in agriculture under schemes of Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP), More Crop per Drop, and 'Har Khet ko Pani'.

 "It is estimated that by 2030, 40.7 per cent of the world's population will be living in the areas of water stress condition. Out of 328-million-hectare land of India, around 147 million hectares is undergoing some form of degradation.

 "Hence, management of land, forest and water are very important to ensure that there is at least the required availability of water for each and every part of the country," TERI said.

 An analysis by TERI suggests an economic loss of 2.5 per cent of GDP due to land degradation in India.

 "It will cost India far less to reclaim land than the costs it is incurring on account of land degradation," Pia Sethi, Senior Fellow, Forestry and Biodiversity division, TERI emphasized.

 Conference of the Parties (COP) 14 which will be held at India Expo Mart Ltd., Greater Noida will have participation from over 196 countries drawn from national and regional governments, science and research communities, the private sector, international and non-governmental organizations.