Environment

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought: The threat increases in 26 of 29 states

Highest increase in land degradation was observed in Lunglei district of Mizoram (5.81 per cent increase from 2003-05 to 2011-13) 

 
By Kiran Pandey
Last Updated: Monday 17 June 2019
Photo: Getty Images

India has witnessed increase in the level of desertification in 26 of 29 states between 2003-05 and 2011-13, according to the State of India's Environment (SoE) 2019 in Figures. 

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed on June 17 every year. 

Twenty-one drought-prone districts, of the 78 in the country that were identified by the Indian Space Research Organisation, have more than half of their areas under desertification.

Of these nine have also witnessed over two per cent increase in the area under desertification between 2003-05 and 2011-13, the report has claimed.

More than 80 per cent of the country's degraded land lies in just nine states: Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana,

India was the signatory to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Paris on June 17, 1994. While the country had committed to achieve land degradation neutrality by 2030, it witnessed an increase of 1.87 million hectares undergoing process of desertification between 2003-05 and 2011-13, according to the report.

Most degraded in India 

Highest increase in land degradation is observed in Lunglei district of Mizoram (5.81 per cent increase from 2003-05 to 2011-13). Other districts with more than two per cent increase in land degradation are: Aizawl (Mizoram), South Tripura (Tripura), Kathua (Jammu Kashmir), Bhiwani (Haryana), Kokrajhar (Assam), Hailakandi (Assam) and Tirap (Arunachal Pradesh).

Top three districts with highest area under desertification or land degradation are Jaisalmer, Rajasthan (92.96 per cent during 2011-13 and 98.13 per cent during 2003-05), Lahaul and Spiti, Himachal Pradesh (80.54 per cent during 2011-13 and 80.57 per cent during 2003-05) and Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir (78.23 per cent during 2011-13 and 78.22 per cent during 2003-05).

Districts with more than 50 per cent area under desertification are: Shyok sub-basin (Jammu and Kashmir), Giridih (Jharkhand), Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh), Bokaro (Jharkhand), Anantapur (Andhra Pradesh), Dhule (Maharashtra), Kohima (Nagaland), Bargarh (Odisha), Purulia (West Bengal), Ahmadnagar (Maharashtra), Koraput (Odisha), West Khasi Hills (Meghalaya), Kendujhar (Odisha), Aizawl (Mizoram), Panch Mahals (Gujarat), Surendranagar (Gujarat), Theni (Tamil Nadu) and North Goa (Goa).

Main reasons that cause desertification in India are:

  • Water erosion (10.98 per cent)
  • Wind erosion (5.55 per cent)
  • Human-made/settlements (0.69 per cent)
  • Vegetation degradation (8.91 per cent)
  • Salinity (1.12 per cent)
  • Others (2.07 per cent)

Despite this, the fund utilisations for implementing drinking water schemes shows the desert development programme (DDP) has been low on priority for the government.

The programme has not been allocated any money under the budget for 2018-19 and 2019-20.

According to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report 2018, funds allocated for utilisation for implementing drinking water schemes under the DDP areas remained unutilised since 2012.

The report showed that substantial unutilised funds were lying with states such as Andhra Pradesh (Rs 37.52 crore), Haryana (Rs 16.40 crore) and Rajasthan (Rs 105.17 crore) as on March 2017. Further, after change in funding pattern from April 2015, the states had not released their share of funds under DDP during 2015-17.

SoE 2019 in Figures is an annual quantified statement of environmental statistics and analysis put together by Down To Earth magazine, which the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) helps publish.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.