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WHAT IS WASTELAND?
The National Wasteland
Development Board (NWDB)
has defined wasteland as
“degraded land which can
be brought under
vegetative cover with
reasonable effort and
which is currently under
utilized and land which is
deteriorating for lack of
appropriate water and soil
management or on account
of natural causes”.
Wasteland Map of India 2011 (Source: Dept of Land
Resources, Govt of India)
• From the total land
area of 328 million
hectare about 162
million hectare i.e. 51%
is agricultural land,4% is
pasture land,21% is
forest land and 24% is
Categories of wasteland in India
(source: The National Wasteland Development Board )
• Gullies and/or ravines
• Upland with or without scrub
• Waterlogged and marshy land
• Land affected by salinity /alkalinity in coastal and inland areas
• Land under shifting cultivation
• Under utilized / degraded notified forest land
• Degraded pasture / grazing land
• Degraded land under plantation crops
• Shifting sands- inland /coastal
• Mining / industrial wastelands
• Barren rocky / stony waste/ sheet rock areas
• Steep sloping area
• Snow covered and/ or glacial area
Causes of land degradation :use and abuse of
our land resource
• Over cultivation
Use as fuel wood.
Clearing forests permanently
for non forestry activities like
human settlement, setting up
• Improper irrigation
Effects of Land Degradation
• Surface runoff and floods.
• Soil erosion & desertification.
• Loss of Nutrients & land
• Soil acidification/alkalinisation.
• Soil salinity.
• Loss of biodiversity.
• Long term socioeconomic
impact on humans like
Reclamation of wasteland means re-claiming it or to
use it for productive purpose. Wasteland reclamation is
the process of turning barren, sterile wasteland into
something that is fertile and suitable for habitation and
cultivation. India has shown an alarming rate of decline
in the man-land ratio from 1.25 hectare per capita in
1921 to 0.48 hectare per capita in 1986 to 0.31 hectare
per capita in 2011.
Need for wasteland reclamation
• It provides a source of income for
the rural poor.
• It ensures a constant supply of
fuel, fodder and timber for local
• It makes the soil fertile by
preventing soil erosion and
• The program helps maintain an
ecological balance in the area.
• The increasing forest cover helps
in maintaining local climatic
Wastelands can be classified into
(1) Easily reclaimable,
(2) Reclaimable with some difficulty,
(3) Reclaimable with extreme difficulty.
Easily reclaimable wastelands can be used for
agricultural purposes. Wastelands can be
reclaimed for agriculture by reducing the salt
content which can be done by leaching etc.
Gypsum, urea, potash and compost are added
before planting crops in such areas.
Over one million acres of Pakistani wasteland
is becoming thriving farmland, with the help
of the Pakistani Government and IAEA
Reclaimed with some difficulty
These wastelands can be utilized for agro
forestry. Agro forestry involves putting land to
multiple uses. Its main purpose is to have
trees and crops inter- and/or under planted to
form an integrated system of biological
production within a certain area. Thus, agro
forestry implies integration of trees with
agricultural crops or livestock management
Reclaimed with extreme difficulty
Wasteland that are reclaimed with extreme difficulty can
be used for forestry or to recreate natural ecosystem.
Attempts to grow trees in highly non alkaline saline soils
have been largely unsuccessful. Field experiments have
shown that species like Eucalyptus, Prosopis and Acacia
nilotica could not be grown in highly alkaline soil. Studies
have shown that if tree seedlings are planted with a
mixture of original soil, gypsum, and manure, better
growth can be achieved. It is however important to use
indigenous species of trees so that the program recreates
the local ecosystem with all its species.
Method of wasteland
• There are various methods by which wastelands can
1. AFFORESTATION :It means growing the forest over
2. REFORESTATION :Growing the forest again over the
lands where they were existing and was destroyed
due to fires, overgrazing, and excessive cutting.
Reforestation checks water logging, floods, soil
erosion and increase productivity of land.
3.PROVIDING SURFACE COVER :The easiest way to
protect the land surface from soil erosion is of leave
crop residue on the land after harvesting.
4. MULCHING : Mulch is a layer of material
applied to the surface of an area of soil .In this
protective cover of organic matter and plants
like stalks, cotton stalks, tobacco stalks etc. are
used which reduce evaporation, help in
retaining soil moisture and reduce soil
5.CHANGING GROUND TOPOGRAPHY ON
DOWNHILL’S :Running water erodes the hill
soil and carries the soil along with it. This can
be minimized by following alternation in
(a) Strip farming : Different kinds of crops are
planted in alternate strip along the contour.
(b) Terracing :In this arrangement,
the earth is shaped in the
form of leveled terraces
to hold soil and water.
The terrace edges are
planted with such plant
species which anchor the
(c) Contour ploughing:In this arrangement, the
ploughing of land is done across the hill and
not in up and down style.
6. LEACHING: In salt affected land, the salinity
can be minimized by leaching them with more
7. CHANGING AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES :Like
mixed cropping, crop rotation and cropping of
plants are adopted to improve soil fertility.
8. ECOLOGICAL SUCCESSION :This refers to the
natural development or redevelopment of an
ecosystem which help in reclaiming the
minerally deficient soil of wasteland.
Role of the authorities in wasteland reclamation
• A massive campaign for
increasing the land under
productive use for fuel and
fodder species needs to be
• Voluntary efforts by farmers’
cooperatives, NGO`s and
organizations should be fully
recognized and assisted.
• Mining of land for house
building material such as
bricks can be reduced by
developing alternative building
Mud Bricks as an alternative
Mud bricks have an advantage of low
manufacturing cost, provide insulation and
have good sound absorption characteristics
NWDB, has initiated a lot of
new schemes which include:
• Grants-in-aid to voluntary
• Ariel seeding programe
• Decentralized People’s
• Silvi pasture farms.
• Seed development.
• Area oriented fuel wood
and fodder projects.
• Rural employment
In the silvi- pastoral system, improved
pasture species are introduced with
tree species. In this system, grass or
grass – legume mixture is grown
along with the woody perennial
simultaneously of the same unit of
land. This is the best management for
with marginal fertility.
A case study of Jatropa plantation
Jatropha (Jatropha curcas) has a great ability to withstand hot weather with
water scarce low fertile soil, it has very promising scope for cultivation on
wastelands even in hot deserts. It also has an ability to withstand high salt
concentration in soil. The tribal belt of Kumbalgarh (Udaipur) and Banswara
are the leading Jatropha growing area because of the most suitable climate
for its commercial plantation in these areas. Rajasthan is the leading state in
Jatropha cultivation. Jatropha in the country is now being grown in about 4,
97, 881 hectares of area with the production potential around 25 million
tonne per year. About 90 per cent of the Jatropha cultivation is in Rajasthan.
Rajasthan government is promoting its production on waste lands. Recently
Rajasthan government has allotted 110 hectare of wastelands for jatropa
plantation. Jatropha plant starts yielding 3rd year after planting and yield
increases over the year. ‘Society for Rural Initiatives for Promotion of
Herbals’ is the major society for promoting Jatropha cultivation. Jatropha is a
promising crop for Rajasthan as it has various benefits like wasteland
reclamation and reforestation, soil preparation, income generation from
previously unusable areas, reducing increased demand for employment by
providing opportunities for livelihood and sustainable & renewable land
resources management. Various industries like bio-fuel industry, cosmetic
industries, pharmaceutical industries, food industries, lubricants industries,
etc could use Jatropha.
Constraints in Jatropha Cultivation
Perceived by Farmers of Rajasthan
i.] Lack of technical guidance and information
ii.] Inadequate training facilities for acquiring skills about its
iii.] Lack of suitable plantation schedule
iv.] Long gestation period of Jatropha
v.] Adverse climatic and edaphic factors for the survival of plants
Vi.] Lack of knowledge about scientific cultivation of Jatropha
vii.] Lack of awareness of economic value of Jatropha seeds
When jatropha seeds are crushed, the resulting jatropha oil can
be processed to produce a high-quality biofuel or biodiesel that
can be used in a standard diesel car or further processed into jet
fuel, while the residue (press cake) can also be used as biomass
feedstock to power electricity plants, used as fertilizer (it
contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium), or as