Wasteland conversion threatens livelihoods, ecological balance
India’s conversion of more than 14,000 square km of ‘wasteland’ — mostly dense scrub, glacial areas, sands or marshland — into productive use between 2008-09 and 2015-16, and the government’s target to restore 26 million hectares of wasteland and degraded land by 2030 risks affecting the livelihoods of pastoralists, fishermen and nomadic farmers who are often dependent on these traditional “commons” lands.
Wasteland Atlas 2019
- It has been prepared by the Department of Land Resources (Ministry of Rural Development) in collaboration with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Department of Space.
- It is the fifth edition of the atlas(2000, 2005, 2010 & 2011)
- This edition is significant as it takes into account 08 MHa of unmapped area of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for the first time.
- The new wastelands mapping exercise was carried out by NRSC using the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite data.
- Communities dependent on Wastelands:- Affecting the livelihoods of pastoralists, fishermen and nomadic farmers who are often dependent on these traditional “commons” lands, caution environmental policy researchers and social activists.
- Pastoral communities depend on common grazing land, gatherers and nomadic farmers depend on scrub forest and open scrubland for shifting cultivation, while fishermen can make a living off waterlogged and marshy areas. These areas protect unique biodiversity resources, which could be destroyed when development occurs.
- In southern India, these areas have traditionally been called ‘poromboke’ land which is communally owned, cannot be bought, sold or built on.
- The backwaters protect inland water resources from encroaching salinity and seawater inundation, as well as storing water for dry seasons.
- These ‘commons’ also act as a buffer against floods, droughts and pollution for a wider population
- Wastelands are a barren and uncultivated land lying unproductive or which is not being utilized to its potential.
- It includes degraded forests, overgrazed pastures, drought-struck pas¬tures, eroded valleys, hilly slopes, waterlogged marshy lands, barren land, etc.