Realizing the importance of availability of reliable database on the wastelands of the country, the Union Minister for Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare & Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar released the Wastelands Atlas – 2019. The Department of Land Resources in collaboration with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Department of Space has published Wastelands Atlases of India – 2000, 2005, 2010 & 2011 editions. The new wastelands mapping exercise, carried out by NRSC using the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite data is brought out as the fifth edition of Wastelands Atlas – 2019. India with 2.4% of total land area of the World is supporting 18% of the World’s population. The per capita availability of agriculture land in India is 0.12 ha whereas World per capita agriculture land is 0.29 ha. Unprecedented pressure on the land beyond its carrying capacity is resulting into degradation of lands in the Country. Therefore, robust geospatial information on wastelands assumes significance and effectively helpful in rolling back the wastelands for productive use through various land development programmes / schemes.
This Wastelands Atlas-2019 provides district and state wise distribution of different categories of wastelands area including mapping of about 12.08 Mha hitherto unmapped area of Jammu & Kashmir. The changes in wastelands between 2008-09 and 2015-16 have been presented in the Atlas. The effort has resulted in estimating the spatial extent of wastelands for entire country to the tune of 55.76 Mha (16.96 % of geographical area of the Country i.e. 328.72 Mha) for the year 2015-16 as compared to 56.60 Mha (17.21%) in the year 2008-09. During this period 1.45 Mha of wastelands are converted into non wastelands categories. There is a net conversion of 0.84 Mha (0.26%) of different wasteland categories in the country during 2008-09 to 2015-16. A reduction in wasteland area was observed in the categories of land with dense scrub, waterlogged and marshy land, sandy areas, degraded pastures / grazing land and gullied and / or ravinous land.
The wastelands have undergone positive change in the states of Rajasthan (0.48 Mha), Bihar (0.11 Mha), Uttar Pradesh (0.10 Mha), Andhra Pradesh (0.08 Mha), Mizoram (0.057 Mha), Madhya Pradesh (0.039 Mha), Jammu & Kashmir (0.038 Mha) and West Bengal (0.032 Mha). Majority of wastelands have been changed into categories of ‘croplands’ (0.64 Mha), ‘forest-dense / open’ (0.28 Mha), ‘forest plantation’ (0.029 Mha), ‘plantation’ (0.057 Mha) and ‘industrial area’ (0.035 Mha) etc.