Impacts due to poor land use are being highlighted in terms of river pollution, industrial hazards, conflicts in land use etc. Acute problems of drinking water, disposal of industrial waste on land and water have become hazardous to human well being in rural areas of many States. In recent years, conflicts between farmers and proposed industrial projects have been reported from various States. The land use/land cover pattern has also been significantly changing over a period of time and land suitable for one purpose is being used for other purposes. The prime agricultural land producing three crops are being used for industrial purposes whereas large stretches of waste lands not far off from the proposed site continue to remain unproductive for both purposes of industry as well as agriculture. Land use planning is, therefore, essential all the more for the country to meet the requirements of socio-economic development by safeguarding the environment and food security. Land use planning is also essential in physical environmental management as well as bio diversity conversation.
Some States have done good work in this field. One example of Gujarat may explain the benefits of the land use planning. In Gujarat, all the cadastral maps have been digitalized and around 600 GIS layers of 20 Department have been place over these digitized maps. Based on these layers only, State Government could locate the land for NANO plant of TATAs and give them possession within 72 hours. The yardsticks for the selection of the area were that the land should be government wasteland; it should be near the Highway and availability of power etc. Therefore, we need a proper, integrated land use policy for the country which may cover usage of land for various purposes such as agriculture, industry, commerce, forests, housing infrastructure, urban area settlements, mining, etc. By addressing all uses of land in an integrated manner, it is possible to minimize conflicts, to make the most efficient trade-offs and to link social and economic development with environmental protection and enhancement.
Today, we have modern technology of remote sensing which includes both aerial as well as satellite based systems which allows us to collect physical data rather easily, with speed and on repetitive basis, and together with GIS helps us to analyze the data spatially, offering possibilities of generating various options of modelling, thereby optimizing the whole planning process. These information systems also offer interpretation of physical (spatial) data with other socio-economic data, and thereby provide an important linkage in the total planning process and making it more effective and meaningful.
So, in a nut shell proper and scientific plans for the land use are essential. The Department of Land
Resources (DoLR) is already working in this field and it proposes to have a National Land Use Plan in place.
The States will also be helped by the DoLR to prepare the State Land Use Plans. In fact the vision is go down up-to the village level with such plans. Such land use plans will capture the overarching concerns: Ecological, food production, livelihood and allocating land for the industry and developmental purposes.
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