Land Degradation in India — An Overview

“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.”Franklin D. Roosevelt

Land is one of the most important resources available to us. Our lives depend on it directly and indirectly. Unfortunately, it has come under serious pressure in the last few years leading to one of the biggest ecological challenge of our times.

Photo by Roman Synkevych on Unsplash

Land degradation is the phenomenon by which land loses it fertility and turns useless from a productive sense. It is usually associated with green sprawling pastures turning to barren dry or semi-arid.

The ramifications are serious. It threatens to affect 2/3rd of the world’s population in the next few years itself. In India, almost 29% of the total land is already degraded and the area may expand in the future as well.

The majority of land degradation is currently concentrated in states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, etc. There is a fear that further land degradation in these states might lead to desertification, a phenomenon which literally means expansion of deserts. This will affect major part of the population as these states contribute a lot to agricultural produce as well as provide employment to millions.

There are several causes that can be traced to land degradation. These are just a few of the causes, there are many more:

Of course, the policymakers are aware of this issue, both nationally and internationally. There has been a sustained effort from the international community to address this issue.

UNCCD-India 2019

India has been positively responding as well. The 14th Conference of Parties (COP-14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was held in 2019. There were many positive outcomes of the conference including the Delhi Declaration —that addressed issues including gender and health, ecosystem, climate change, private sector engagement, Peace Forest Initiative of South Korea and recovery of five million hectares of degraded land in India.

There are various others steps being taken as well, to address the issue of degradation before it becomes a major hurdle for us socially, environmentally as well as economically:

There are many more initiatives like these, but their proper execution and implementation is more important than planning. With the growing economy and rapid urbanisation, we must also not forget about our land. We need a multipronged, holistic effort to combat this on all levels. We need to identify and reverse land degradation as fast as possible.

Our future depends on it.

IT Engineer with interest in Law, Administration, Environment and Foreign Policy | Noida, New Delhi — India |