12.6 million hectares of land degraded in NE

SHILLONG, Nov 20 – At a rate of four per cent higher than the country, 12.6 million hectares of land has become degraded in the North East, the Soil Conservation Society of India (SCSI) said here.

Pointing to a report of the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, J S Bali, SCSI’s chief patron suggested that watershed management can address this problem, which has seen 146.8 million hectares of geographical area in the country go waste.

“Only about 18.9 million hectares of the degraded land in the country were treated up to the Tenth Plan, while the Land Resources department of the Ministry of Rural Development has a budget of Rs 15,000 crore for the watershed management programme in the Eleventh Plan,” he said addressing a three-day national conference of SCSI here recently.

Watershed management checks soil erosion and helps in water preservation.

The Society’s president Suraj Bhan expressed concern over the water crises in several parts of India arising out of population growth and demand for food.

“The water crisis would become more acute by 2020 as the country would require about 29 per cent more water for agriculture, whereas the water availability is likely to decrease by 12 per cent,” Bhan said.

Meghalaya’s Soil and Water Conservation Minister R C Laloo informed that two million tonnes of top soil in the State is washed away annually, removing all nutrients necessary for soil fertility. –PTI