National Wasteland Atlas 2010 released

The government feels that the data can be utilised for various purposes, including in policy formulation to increase agriculture production of the country. Releasing the National Wasteland Atlas 2010, prepared by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in coordination with the Land Resources Department, Rural Development Minister C P Joshi said, "it is very much relevant at a time when we are addressing the food security in the country."

"There is a stagnancy in agriculture sector and now we have to identify more land for agriculture production," he added. Rehabilitation of wastelands through various programmes of the ministry like watershed management programme and desert development programme can improve the cultivable land resource base of the country thereby increasing the vegetation cover too, he said.

Wasteland mapping has the potential to change the food security scenario in the country, he said. In the atlas, wherein data is based on 2005-06 situation, an estimated 47.24 M ha land have delineated as wasteland which is 14.91 per cent of the country's total geographical area.

"Wasteland atlas had been prepared earlier also. But this is the first time it has been prepared on the basis of three season data," the Ministry's Department of Land Resources Secretary Rita Sinha said. She underlined that states are not very conscious about the importance of the wasteland. The data from the atlas can be used for proper land resource management. "This has to be done by states as land is the state subject," she said.

Scientists of ISRO will come up with more latest data possibly in February next year. "We will compare the data with the latest one and then send advisories to the states to utilise them," she added.

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