UNCCD CoP: India still unclear about its degradation target

Prakash Javadekar quotes target figure substantially less than that decided by his ministry

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Thursday 29 August 2019

India is still not clear about its Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) target even as the 14th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is just four days away.

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar caused confusion on August 28, 2019, when he quoted a target figure that was substantially less than what his ministry had quoted earlier.

“This degradation happens because of many factors like over-exploitation, over-grazing, over-water logging and wind. Floods also make a good land into a bad land. We have to restore it. Therefore, we have taken a target to restore 50 lakh (5 million) hectares of land by 2030. We will convert degraded land into fertile land,” Javadekar said while addressing a curtain raiser event ahead of the UNCCD at the event at National Media Centre in New Delhi.

The UNCCD will be held from September 2 to September 13.

Javadekar’s figure for restoration is significantly lower than the target decided by his ministry after the National Workshop on ‘Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) Target Setting Programmme’ on June 17. The target for Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) or restoration of degraded land decided then was 30 million hectares (mha).

“By 2030, India commits to halt any further land degradation and rehabilitate at least 30 mha degraded wasteland, forest and agricultural land (covering 10 mha each) out of the total 96.4 mha of degradation land for the country,” the then-decided LDN target said.  

“I cannot comment as this has become a political issue now. The target is still not final. We’ll come to know when the Prime Minister will look at it,” said Jigmet Takpa, joint secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change’s Desertification Cell.

Highly-placed sources within the ministry told Down to Earth that the targets have been diluted because consensus could not be reached in the ministry.

“The 30 mha target was approved at the secretary level but is now being revised. We have already pledged undertaking regeneration on 21 mha. This figure plus the 5 mha making a total of 26 mha can also become the new accepted target,” the source said.

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