Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday said India is on track to achieve its national commitment on land degradation neutrality, and that it’s working to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
He was delivering the keynote address at a United Nations high-level dialogue on Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought.
“We are also working towards restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. This would contribute to India’s commitment to achieving an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent,’’ the Prime Minister said in a virtual address.
“Land is the fundamental building block for supporting all lives and livelihoods. And, all of us understand that the web of life functions as an interconnected system. Sadly, land degradation affects over two-thirds of the world today. If left unchecked, it will erode the very foundations of our societies, economies, food security, health, safety and quality of life. Therefore, we have to reduce the tremendous pressure on land and its resources. Clearly, a lot of work lies ahead of us. But we can do it,’’ said Prime Minister Modi.
“India has taken the lead to highlight land degradation issues at international forums. The Delhi Declaration of 2019 called for better access and stewardship over land, and emphasised gender-sensitive transformative projects,’’ he said, adding that around 3 million hectares of forest cover have been added in the last decade, enhancing the combined forest cover to almost one-fourth of the country’s total area.
Modi said restoration of land will ensure good soil health, increased land productivity, food security and improved livelihoods.
“In many parts of India, we have taken up some novel approaches. To give just one example, the Banni region in Rann of Kutch in Gujarat suffers from highly degraded land and receives very little rainfall. In that region, land restoration is done by developing grasslands, which helps in achieving land degradation neutrality. It also supports pastoral activities and livelihood by promoting animal husbandry. In the same spirit, we need to devise effective strategies for land restoration while promoting indigenous techniques,’’ he said.
The Prime Minister said land degradation poses a challenge to the developing world, and that India is assisting fellow developing countries to develop land restoration strategies. A Centre of Excellence is being set up in India to promote a scientific approach towards land degradation issues, he said.