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MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across States

  • Published
    4th Oct, 2022
Context

Context:

The government is planning to bring convergence between the MGNREGS and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) to restore degraded land.

The plan

Activities that can be undertaken:

  • Ridge area treatment
  • Drainage line treatment
  • Soil and moisture conservation
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Nursery raising
  • Afforestation
  • Horticulture
  • Pasture development
  • The Union government wants the States to undertake activities focused on restoring degraded land and reversing desertification using MGNREGS funds.
  • The funds will go towards both material and wage components.
  • The employment scheme will work in tandem with the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana to help take up treatment of about 30% more land than feasible with the current scheme size.

Need for Convergence of the two schemes:

  • Unaccomplished targets: In line with its commitment to UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14), the government 2019 has raised its target of restoration of degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030. After three years the government is nowhere near this target.
  • Pandemic: The constraints posed to the economy by the pandemic restricted the target to 4.95 million hectares by 2025-26.
  • Limited funds to deal with the gargantuan task of restoring degraded land and reversing desertification poses a challenge.

Therefore, there is a compelling reason for the Ministry to explore alternative opportunities to fulfill the commitment and address other challenges.

Benefits of convergence of schemes

  • Enhanced effectiveness: Convergence of schemes help to complement each another, while enhancing growth and development outcomes.
  • Better planning: Resource convergence establishes a synergy between government, NGOs, the private sector and beneficiaries. It leads to better planning and effective investments in rural areas. 
  • Increase in Social Capital: Collective planning and implementation among different stakeholders will enhance social capital. This will improve management and work output.
  • Increase in Physical Capital: The process will help in creating durable assets and will also improve land productivity. With convergence, two plus two will equal six, not four.
  • Facilitation of Ecological Synergies: Natural resource base regeneration through different Activities such as afforestation, drought proofing, flood proofing, and watershed will lead to effective use of Resources.
  • Enhancing Economic Opportunities: Income opportunities, savings and investments may be generated through activities such as pisciculture.
  • Strengthening Democratic Processes: Convergence awareness and planning at the grassroot level will lead to greater ownership of projects.

Understanding the terms

 

Land Degradation

Desertification

Meaning

Deterioration or loss of the productive capacity of the soils for present and future.

Land degradation within dry land regions (arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid regions)

Caused by

Extreme weather conditions, particularly drought, human activities that pollute or degrade the quality of soils and land utility

Deforestation, wetland drainage, overgrazing, unsustainable land-use practices, and the expansion of agricultural, industrial, and urban areas

Scope of the problem in India

  • According to Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas, at least 30% of India’s total geographical area is under the category of “degraded land”.
  • Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat, and Goa have more than 50% of the land area undergoing desertification or degradation.
  • States with less than 10% land degradation are Kerala, Assam, Mizoram, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Other steps taken by India to combat desertification

  • Integrated Watershed Management Programme: It aims to restore ecological balance by harnessing, conserving, and developing degraded natural resources with the creation of Rural Employment. It is subsumed under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana.
  • UNCCD: India became a signatory to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)in 1994 and ratified in 1996.
  • National Afforestation Programme: Implemented since 2000for the afforestation of degraded forest lands.
  • National Action Programme to Combat Desertification: It was prepared in 2001to address issues of increasing desertification and to take appropriate actions.
  • Fodder and Feed Development Scheme: Launched in 2010 to improve degraded grassland and also the vegetation cover of problematic soils like saline, acidic and heavy soil.
  • National Mission on Green India: It is a part ofthe National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). It was approved in 2014 to protect, restore and enhance India’s diminishing forest cover with a deadline of 10 years.
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