According to State of India’s Environment 2017, nearly 30 per cent of India is degraded or facing desertification. Highlight the major causes of Desertification in India. Also explain steps taken by Government to address the problem.

According to State of India’s Environment 2017, nearly 30 per cent of India is degraded or facing desertification. Highlight the major causes of Desertification in India. Also explain steps taken by Government to address the problem.

Approach

  • Brief introduction about Desertification in India
  • Major causes for the Desertification in India
  • Steps taken by Government to address the desertification.
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

Desertification is a type of land degradation, where relatively dry land region becomes increasingly arid, typically losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife. According to State of India’s Environment 2017, nearly 30 per cent of India is degraded or facing desertification, with 26 of 29 Indian states reporting an increase in the area undergoing desertification in the past 10 years.

Major causes (according to the ‘Desertification and Land degradation atlas of India by ISRO):

  1. Water Erosion– responsible for around 10.98% of desertification in India. Loss of soil due to rainfall or surface runoff.
  2. Vegetation degradation- responsible for about 8.91% of desertification. Includes deforestation, shifting cultivation, degradation in grazing, grassland.
  3. Wind erosion- responsible for 5.55% of desertification; soil erosion by wind is more common in areas where the natural vegetation has been destroyed. Such conditions occur mainly in arid and dry areas along the sandy shores of oceans, lakes and rivers.
  4. Salinity- responsible for around 1.12% of desertification. Saline accumulation retards plant growth. Land devoid of plant cover easily becomes desertified.
  5. Human settlements- responsible for 0.69% of desertification, it includes urbanisation, mining etc.
  6. Others- responsible for around 2%. Includes water logging, frost shattering, mass movement etc

Steps taken by Government to combat Desertification:

  • India has committed itself to the U.N. Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD)that it would fully stop land degradation by 2030.
  • The National Action Programme for Combating Desertification was prepared in 2001 to take action in addressing the desertification.
  • Also a Regional Action Programme has been formulated to strengthen the existing capacity of the UNCCD member country parties and to network with each other for effective measures to combat desertification.
    • Six Thematic Programme Network (TPN) have been identified for this purpose. India also participated actively in TPN.
  • There are number of programmes that address issues related to land degradation and desertification, including
    • Integrated Watershed Management Programme
    • National Afforestation Programme
    • National Mission for Green India
    • National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas

India can take a look at global case studies in order to fight the problem of desertification, for example China’s ‘the green wall’. India needs to take leadership in the global effort in eradicating the problem of desertification. This alone will ensure sustainable land management and provide food, water and livelihood security to people besides safeguarding the environment.

Subjects : Ecology and Environment

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