Union Minister for Rural Development releases ‘Wastelands Atlas’ – 2019

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.

Additional Information:


  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. Scrubland: This is the land, which is generally prone to deterioration due to erosion.
  3. 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.
  4. Land affected by salinity/alkalinity:  Land affected by salinity/alkalinity have excess soluble salts (saline) or high exchangeable sodium.
  5. Shifting Cultivation Areas: Shifting cultivation is a traditional practice of growing crops on forested/ vegetated hill-slope by the slash and burn method.
  6. 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.
  7. Mining /Industrial wastelands: Mine dumps are those lands where waste debris is accumulated after extraction of minerals.
  8. Barren Rocky Area: These are rock exposures of varying lithology often barren and devoid of soil and vegetative cover.