Essay on Waste Land Management in India!
Wasteland is defined as land that is at present lying unused; or land which is not being used to its optimum potential due to various constraints; or land which cannot be used (National Remote Sensing Agency-NSRA- Hyderabad).
Wasteland in India therefore consists of two broad classes of land: Cultivable Wasteland and Non-Cultivable Wasteland. Cultivable Wasteland is capable of, or has the potential for, development for agricultural or pastoral purposes or can be afforested.
It is not being used at present due to such constraints as water shortage, salinity or alkalinity of the soil, soil erosion, water logging, an unfavorable physiographic position, or human neglect. Non-Cultivable land, on the other hand, is barren land and cannot be put to any productive use, either for agriculture or for developing forest cover. Examples of such land are the snow covered or glacial areas and barren rock outcrops.
According to the latest estimate by the NSRA, there are 53.3 million hectares of wasteland in India. The states with the largest areas of the wasteland are Jammu and Kashmir with 13.3 million hectares and Rajasthan with 12.9 million hectares. They comprise nearly 50 percent of the total national wasteland. Whereas almost the entire Jammu and Kashmir wasteland cannot be cultivated, most of the Rajasthan wastelands can be cultivated.
In most of the other states, the greater portion of their wasteland is cultivable. Among these states those with the largest amount of wasteland are Uttar Pradesh, 4.3 m. ha. (of which about 65 percent is cultivable waste), Gujarat 3.3 m. ha., Andhra Pradesh 2.4 m. ha. And Himachal Pradesh 2 m.ha. (almost all non-cultivable). All other states account for only 28 percent of the wasteland in India.
Rajasthan has the largest cultivable wasteland (11.9 m. ha.) in the country. This will become cultivable from schemes like the Indira Gandhi Canal Project.
A large number of patches of salt affected land are found in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat and this is attributed to over-irrigation resulting in salt accumulation. Some parts of Tamil Nadu and the northern eastern hill areas, forests are often felled or burnt of cultivation. When the crop is reaped, the wandering cultivators move on, leaving behind ravaged land.
Increasing destruction and degradation of forests and tree-lands, especially, in the Himalayas and other hilly areas contribute to heavy erosion on top soil, erratic rainfall and recurring floods. It is causing acute shortage of firewood and loss of productivity due to eroded and degraded lands. Another area of concern is degradation of forests due to biotic pressure.
The National Forest Policy explicitly recognized the multiple use nature of forests, rights of local populations, including the inadvisability of protecting forest resources without their active participation, and the role that forests play in the survival strategies of the poor.
The task of regenerating the degraded forests and lands adjoining forest areas and other protected and ecologically fragile areas and the implementation of eco-development programs is being undertaken by the National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board.
The major schemes in the Wildlife sector concentrate on conservation, protection and development of wildlife and its habitat. The main strategy for conversation of bio-diversity is protection of variable habitats in representative ecosystems. A wide network of 83 National Parks, 447 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 25 (+6) Project Tiger Areas, 200 Zoos and 8 Biosphere reserves have contributed towards conservation of these species.
Forest conservation is of primary importance because of the various functions including provision of timber to agro-based industries and proving as a means of livelihood for the dependants all around the nation.
To summarize, we vividly understand the significance of Environmental Planning and Management and Development Oriented Planning in the rural and urban sectors of our nation. Also, the hindrance posed by poverty against development, growth and environmental quality.
The need to eradicate this socio-economic problem is therefore realized for our society and it is the responsibility of the governments and other environmental groups that function in our nation to see to this purpose with the help of planning and management.
Finally, environmental resource management must be seen as a measure for the optimum utilization of the scarce natural resources available in India and to safeguard and preserve the environment around us.