India sees reduction in wastlelands

April 25th, 2012 - 11:24 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) Wastelands in the country have come down by half a million hectares between 2005-06 and 2008-09, with Karnataka leading in their use for industry and plantations and Rajasthan using them as crop land.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who Wednesday released “Wastelands Atlas of India 2011 (change analysis based on temporal satellite data of 2005-06 and 2008-09),” said 13,766 hectares of wasteland had been converted to industrial use, 80,000 hectares had come under plantations and 1.3 million hectares had been categorised as cropland.

Ramesh said there had been variation across states, with many showing a reduction in size of their wastelands and a few others witnessing an increase. Rajasthan has witnessed the largest reduction in size of its wastelands.

He said total wastelands in 2005-06 were 47.2 million hectares which had come down to 46.7 million hectares in 2008-09. “Actual decrease (in wastelands) is 3.2 million hectare but there is simultaneous increase of 2.7 million hectare. The net reduction is of 0.5 million hectare,” Ramesh said.

States like Rajasthan, Mizoram, Manipur, Gujarat, Bihar, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have witnessed a decrease in wastelands while Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Uttarakhand witnessed a slight increase.

The minister said the largest conversion of wastelands into industrial use between 2005-06 and 2008-09 had taken place in Karnataka (2,965 hectares) followed by Guajrat (2,319 hectares), Rajasthan (1,368 hectares), Tamil Nadu (1,537 hectares), Andhra Pradesh (1,087 hectares) and Haryana (1,011 hectares). In West Bengal, conversion of wastelands for industrial use has been only 100 hectares.

Talking about conversion of wasteland into plantations, Ramesh said, Karnataka with 14,500 hectares was on the top followed by Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

On conversion of wastelands into cropland, he said the bulk of this had taken place in Rajathan (0.5 million hectares), followed by Gujarat, Bihar and Jharkhand.

He said Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) was the flagship initiative of his ministry to reduce area under wastelands such as barren land, deserts and drought-affected and tun them into fertile land.

“The target of wasteland management is 2.5 million hectares in 12th (Five Year) Plan (2012-17),” Ramesh said.

He said the ministry had sought Rs 36,000 crore for the IWMP in the 12th Plan and is likely to be allocated Rs 35,000 crore. The ministry had been allocated Rs 15,349 crore in 11th Plan for the programme.

The data has been complied on the basis of mapping done by the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC).

The first mapping of wastelands was completed by NRSC in 2000 and the next in 2003.

The first mapping showed that the area under wastelands was 63 million hectares which had come down to 55 million hectare in the second mapping.

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