Almost half of India’s total land area is classified as ‘degraded’ according to a government report.
The State of the Environment report found that out of a total geographical area of 306 million hectares (Mha), 146.82 Mha was degraded land.
The report said the main causes were wind erosion and waterlogged soil. But it listed a number of other factors including deforestation, unsustainable fuel-wood and fodder extraction, poor farming practices such as over-grazing, improper crop rotation, mismanagement of irrigation/groundwater extraction and excessive use of agro-chemicals.
According to the report, per hectare consumption of fertilisers had increased from 69.8 kg in 1991-92 to 113.3 kg in 2006-07.
The report said farmers should be given training on rotating crops and reducing the use of chemicals.
'Research needs to be focused on measures such as integrated crop management,' the authors wrote. 'An integrated approach to the problem of degradation, linking agriculture and environment, is yet to be attempted even at the policy level.'
The report also highlighted the issue of water security across India. It said many Indian cities were beginning to experience moderate to severe water shortages.
It recommended measures including improved efficiency, reducing water pollution and reuse and recycling of wastewater to combat the shortages.
The report in full