News: The Ministry of Rural Development has released the Wastelands Atlas – 2019
About Wastelands Atlas:
- The Westland Atlas is prepared by the Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development in collaboration with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Department of Space.
- Wastelands Atlases of India were previously published in 2000, 2005, 2010 & 2011.
Key takeaways from Wastelands Atlas 2019
- The spatial extent of wastelands for India is 55.76 Mha (16.96 % of geographical area of India i.e. 328.72 Mha) for the year 2015-16 as compared to 56.60 Mha (17.21%) in the year 2008-09.
- During this period 1.45 Mha of wastelands have been converted into non wastelands categories.
- Majority of wastelands have been changed into categories of ‘croplands’, ‘forest-dense / open’, ‘forest plantation’, ‘plantation’ and ‘industrial area’
- A reduction in wasteland area was observed in the categories of land with dense scrub, waterlogged and marshy land, sandy areas, degraded pastures / grazing land and gullied and / or ravinous land.
- Wastelands refer to degraded lands that are currently underutilized, and are deteriorating for lack of appropriate soil & water management or on account of natural causes.
- Wastelands develop naturally or due to influence of environment, chemical and physical properties of the soil or management constraints.
Important Categories of Wasteland
- Gullied and/or Ravinous Land: Gully is a narrow channel when surface water flow increases in response to clearing and excessive use of land. The intricate network of gullies is referred to as ravines.
- Scrubland: This is the land, which is generally prone to deterioration due to erosion.
- Waterlogged / Marshy Land: It is that low lying land where the water is at/or near the surface and the water stands for most part of the year.
- Land affected by salinity/alkalinity: Land affected by salinity/alkalinity have excess soluble salts (saline) or high exchangeable sodium.
- Shifting Cultivation Areas: Shifting cultivation is a traditional practice of growing crops on forested/ vegetated hill-slope by the slash and burn method.
- Degraded pastures/grazing land: These are the lands in non-forest areas that are either under permanent pastures or meadows, which have degraded due to lack of proper soil and water conservation and drainage development measures.
- Mining /Industrial wastelands: Mine dumps are those lands where waste debris is accumulated after extraction of minerals.
- Barren Rocky Area: These are rock exposures of varying lithology often barren and devoid of soil and vegetative cover.