File photo of Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar. | ANI Photo
File photo of Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar. | ANI Photo
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New Delhi: India will aim to transform 50 lakh hectares of degraded or barren land for cultivation by 2030, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said Tuesday.

The minister said the target is over and above India’s pledge to restore 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020 as part of the ‘Bonn Challenge’. The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030.

Javadekar’s comments come ahead of the 14th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), scheduled from 2-13 September. 

Issues such as land desertification and degradation, and drought will be discussed at the convention. The COP-14 is being led by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) headed by Javadekar.

Speaking to the media after attending the curtain raiser of the event, Javadekar said: “The convention will result in a ‘New Delhi Declaration’, which will outline the global agreement on how to combat land desertification.”

“India will make an effort to ensure that the world follows what Delhi decides,” he added.

Also read: 100 mn hectares going to waste, govt to bring land & water schemes together to fix problem

‘India has 29% of degraded land’

Stating that one third of the world is facing the problem of land desertification, Javadekar said: “Science has given us many new opportunities to restore those lands through various approaches.”

“India also has 29 per cent of degraded land. This degradation happens because of many factors such as over-stressing, over-grazing, floods and erosion,” he added.

Earlier this month, Anuradha Singh, Director, Desertification Cell, MoEF&CC, had said the Modi government is planning to ‘converge’ various land and water schemes to reclaim degraded land, and prevent further loss of arable pastures.

An analysis of remotely sensed data by Indian Space Research Organisation in 2016 had revealed that 96.40 million hectares or 29.32 per cent of the Total Geographic Area (TGA) of India faces the threat of land degradation.

Research wing announced

Javadekar announced that a centre of excellence would be set up at the Forest Research Institute in Dehradun in partnership with the UNCCD for the purpose of conducting research on how to restore degraded land. 

The new wing will map land degradation, review existing schemes and programmes, and undertake transformative projects of land restoration, Javadekar said.

Meanwhile, over 3,000 international delegates from as many as 196 countries, including at least 94 environment ministers, are expected to attend the UN event to be held in Greater Noida. Policy-makers, scientists and NGOs are also likely to be part of the convention to share their expertise.

The agenda of the event is to review the progress made in the last two years in controlling land desertification and degradation, and drought. It is also expected to agree on about 30 decisions to ensure that the convention’s goals for 2030 are achieved.

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