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6.96 million ha of land under degradation in state: ISRO report

The data revealed a steady increase in land under threat of degradation in the state from 6.94 million hectares in 2003 to 2005 to 6.95 million hectares in 2011-2013
Last Updated : 19 November 2022, 00:25 IST

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With close to 6.96 million hectares of land undergoing degradation and desertification, Karnataka is the fifth biggest contributor to the total geographical area under degradation in India.

According to the Desertification and land degradation atlas of India, prepared by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for 2018-19, Karnataka contributes close to 2.12 per cent of the land getting degraded and desertified in the country. Rajasthan tops the list of the highest amount of land under degradation in the country with 6.46 per cent followed by Maharashtra (4.35 per cent), Gujarat (3.12 per cent), and Ladakh (2.16 per cent).

The data revealed a steady increase in land under threat of degradation in the state from 6.94 million hectares in 2003 to 2005 to 6.95 million hectares in 2011-2013.

Land degradation and desertification increase the area of barren and uncultivable land in the state and cause a drastic reduction in agricultural production.

"The most serious implication of land degradation and desertification is the threat it poses to food security. As the fertility of soil reduces, the area of fertile agricultural land will come down, resulting in a reduction in agricultural produce," said environmentalist Yellappa Reddy A N.

Explaining how Karnataka had lost a huge area of land to degradation, Professor T V Ramachandra of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), said mismanagement of land is the major cause. "Over the years, nearly 40 per cent to 45 per cent of the area in districts like Kolar have turned uncultivable, owing to mismanagement. In many areas around the Western Ghats, forest land has been converted to agricultural land and eventually, the top fertile layer loses its fertility and ends up into a wet desert," Professor Ramachandra said.

That apart, experts also said that land degradation could adversely affect the biodiversity of the state and reduce the water-holding capacity of the soil.

The atlas also revealed that the most significant process of desertification or land degradation in the state is water erosion (26.13 per cent), followed by vegetation degradation (8.85 per cent). However, the most concerning factor was an increase in the area affected by man-made activities from 0.10 per cent in 2003-05 to 0.20 per cent by 2018-19. "Policy-level interventions are the need of the hour. Government should identify fragile areas and conserve them. Also, there is a need to encourage watershed programmes and investments should be made towards creating a better ecosystem," Professor Ramachandra added.

Speaking to DH, T V Ramachandra, Professor, IISc, said, "Over the years, nearly 40 per cent to 45 per cent of the area in districts like Kolar have turned uncultivable, owing to mismanagement. In many areas around the Western Ghats, forest land has been converted to agricultural land and eventually the top fertile layer loses its fertility and ends up into a wet desert. Policy-level interventions are the need of the hour. Government should identify fragile areas and conserve them."

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Published 18 November 2022, 17:02 IST

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