What is essentially a wasteland?
- The non technical definition of wasteland from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary is ‘An empty area of land, especially in or near a city, which is not used to grow crops or built on, or used in any way and/or a place, time or situation containing nothing positive or productive, or completely without a particular quality or activity’.
- The Technical Task Group Report of the National Wastelands Development Board Defines the Wasteland as a Land Which is Presently Lying Unutilized due to Different Constraints
- ICAR proposed that Wastelands are Lands which Due to Neglect or Due to Degradation are not Being Utilized to Their Full Potential. These can result from inherent or imposed disabilities or both, such as location, environment, chemical and physical properties, and even suffer from management conditions
- According to Integrated Wasteland Development Programme, Wasteland is a degraded land which can be brought under vegetative cover, with reasonable effort, and which is currently under utilised and land which is deteriorating for lack of appropriate water and soil management or on account of natural causes.
Accelerating growth of wastelands/degraded lands created a buzz to the Government. The growing concern to prevent this extraordinary growth, Government of India have set up the National Wastelands Development Board in 1985 under the Ministry of Environment & Forests.
Categories of wasteland for Identification
Culturable Wasteland- The land which is has potential for the development of vegetative cover and is not being used due to different constraints of varying degrees, such as erosion, water logging, salinity etc.
Unculturable Wasteland– The land that cannot be developed for vegetative cover, for instance the barren rocky areas and snow covered glacier areas.
Categories of wasteland for Identification (Based on causative agents);
|Sheet Erosion||Sand Dunes||Mine Spoils||Land Slides|
|Rill Erosion||Sand Bar||Shifting Cultivation||Shallow Soils|
|Gully Erosion||Coastal||Industrial Wasteland|
Wasteland status in India
Estimated Area under the Wastelands provided by different organization
|Ministry of Agriculture and the JNU, Deptt. Of Geography (1986)||175|
|National Land Use and Wasteland Development Council (First Meeting 1986)||123|
|Society for Promotion of Wasteland Development (1982)||145|
|Ministry of Rural Development & NRSA (2000)||64|
|State wise wastelands of India- NRSA (Information as on year 2003)|
|State||Wasteland (Area: In square km)|
|J & K||70201.99|
- About 120839 sq km of area of J & K is remain unsurveyed
- Total geographical area of India: 3287263 sq. km
- Source: Wasteland Atlas of India -2005 :NRSA
The trick to solve any problem is to first have a reliable data set; the problem of wastelands can be addressed only if there is concrete baseline data that can be used for analysis. The data collected can be Climatic (rainfall, temperature, wind velocity,); Topography (angle of slope, length of slope); Erosion (the extent and intensity of erosion); Soil Properties (physical and chemical).
There is a need for site-matched technology to make the soil productive at a rapid rate because in nature the changes that occur rapidly take 200 – 400 years to attain equilibrium.
The method used for improvement for wasteland will depend on the type of wasteland. Some traditional methods can be the in-situ conservation methods for improving the moisture content of soil (bunding, terracing etc.); to promote natural regeneration; water harvesting; promoting agro- forestry.