Down to Earth Summary 1-15 September 2019 (Download PDF)


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1. The Dictum of Desertification: The United Nation’s Convention emphasized land and water by preventing land degradation and water scarcity. To prevent the world from deadly impacts of the climate change. Building wealth for the poorest and improving their livelihoods. Mitigating greenhouse gases by growing trees, improving soil health structure, changing agricultural practices and diets. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2019 reports reveal that modern agricultural practices are being over chemicalised and over industrialized resulting in Green House Gas Emissions.

India’s 60 percent of the population depends on agriculture

  • The Western Ghats of India consists of barren land, shallow soil and scarce trees.
  • A little more rainfall can wash away the top soils in Rajasthan as a result of which saplings have to be planted twice a year.
  • A little less rainfall also proves disastrous with holes being created at everywhere.
  • UNCCD projects 12 million ha of land across the world get desertified every year.
  • India houses 18 per cent of the world population and 15 per cent of livestock on just 2.4 per cent of land apart from 195 million undernourished people.
  • 14th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) to UNCCD in Greater Noida, New Delhi, from September 2 to 13,2019.
  • An atlas published by the Indian Space Research Organization’s Space Application Centre (SAC) -India, Ahmedabad in 2018, some 96.40 million ha, or about 30 per cent of the country’s total area, is undergoing degradation.
  • 82.64 million hectare land of India is under desertification.
  • Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Goa, Nagaland are the states with vast areas under desertification.

2. Rapidly Disappearing Himalayan Springs

  • The disappearing Himalayan Springs will impact the rivers thereby causing the desertification in the plains.
  • As per NITI Aayog 2018 report the mountain ranges are home to 3 million of India’s 5 million springs.
  • Nearly 50 % of the springs have dried up or turned seasonal.
  • The water in the river Ganga is only 29 percent from glaciers and the rest is from the springs.
  • About 60 per cent of people in rural regions of the Himalayas still use stream water for drinking.
  • Most of the rivers in India has its origin from springs and therefore any change in spring hydrology also impacts the river system.
  • The winter rain has almost disappeared.
  • The total rainfall in the Himalayas have decreased in the past few centuries as per the report of Advanced Center for Water Resources Development and Management.
  • The drying up of springs has also resulted in water insecurity inside forests and national parks and on their fringes as well.
  • About 20,000 ha of forest is felled every year in Nagaland for Jhum Cultivation.

Water Stress in Andhra Pradesh

  • Soil erosion in Anantapuramu district of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Anantapuram district falls in in the rain shadow region of Rayalaseema.
  • Rainfall has been scantier and irregular over the past few years with hot and ferocious winds blowing.
  • Wind and water erosions have resulted in the rise of sand dunes.

4. Restricting Sand Movement on Dune Slopes by Growing Plants in CHECKERBOARD OR PARALLEL STRIPES

  • For dune covered areas and sandy plains, The Central Arid Zone Research Institute, or CAZRI in Jodhpur, has taken several steps in the state particularly in the western Rajasthan.
  • Afforestation technique has been extensively used by The Central Arid Zone Research Institute.
  • Old sand dunes formed 10,000 years ago were targeted by CAZRI.
  • CAZRI’s activities include a) fencing of dune areas to protect against biotic interferences; b) creating micro-wind breaks in parallel stripe or checkerboard patterns by planting locally available brushwood and grass; c) afforestation on dune slopes by directly sowing grass seeds and transplanting seeds of indigenous and exotic species; d) planting grass slips, seeds of grasses or leguminous creepers on the leeward side of the microwind breaks; and e) continuous management of dunes till the input cost is recovered.
  • The same technique is being now used by Rajasthan’s other districts like Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Churu.
  • Whenever there is monsoon rainfall In Thar, even the barchan slopes are put to mono-cropping of pearl millet. In the Thar margins, barchans occur with superimposed dunes 30 to 40 metre high.
  • The Central Arid Zone Research Institute has developed Integrated Farming System (IFS) on 7 ha which has the capacity to generate employment of more than 845 man-days and provide up to Rs. 2.5 lakh per annual returns.

5. Private Sector’s importance towards restoring land and sustaining life.

  • Degraded land is nor recovering faster.
  • Over 1.3 billion people in the world are directly affected by land degradation.
  • Nearly 3.2 billion people are impacted indirectly.
  • The govt. along with the private sector needs to work together to tackle this land degradation issue.
  • The primary target of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) was dry land as these lands possess a greater risk of desertification or degradation.
  • The desertification of lands make us more prone to floods, droughts and forest fires.
  • Habitat loss results in biodiversity. The climate change also gets worsened.

Cooperation of Individual Farmers and Those organised as cooperatives

  • India has been a global leader on all fronts— policy, technology, economy, consumer base, food production and social action.
  • To raise productivity of the land so as to feed family, create wealth or get their produce to the market.
  • A healthy land cannot be exploited for the sake of making long term benefits and profits.
  • Creating jobs, preserving seeds, replenishing freshwater sources, building beautiful and secure homes.
  • Achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Restored degraded land will help farmers to flourish, communities to thrive, Private sector to grow and environment system to rebound.

- Published/Last Modified on: September 22, 2019


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