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Over 29 percent of India’s area under degradation: Harsh Vardhan

IANS | New Delhi |

As much as 29.32 per cent of India’s total geographic area is under degradation, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday.

At a UN conference to combat desertification, he also pointed out that every minute, drylands lose 23 hectares to drought and desertification — a loss of 20 million tonnes of potential foodgrain production.

The minister said India is committed towards UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which aims at achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030.

LDN, according to the 110 party UNCCD, is a state when amount and quality of land remains stable or increases to support ecosystem, services and food security. This agenda was adopted in 2015.

“In India, total land area under land degradation is 96.40 million hectares, which is 29.32 per cent of the country’s total geographical area,” Harsh Vardhan said while inaugurating the four-day Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop of the UNCCD here.

The minister pointed out that India has around 70 per cent of its total geographical area under drylands. Of this about 30 per cent of its land affected by land degradation and about 25 percent of the land affected by desertification.

With 30 per cent of the world’s population living in dry areas, nearly 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil and 27,000 bio-species are lost every year globally.

“Eight out of 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in drylands,” the minster said, while citing schemes like Soil Health Card Scheme, among others as his government’s attempt to tackle desertification.