New Delhi, India: The National Wasteland Atlas 2010 was released by the Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Dr. C.P. Joshi. The Atlas, based on the nation-wide wastelands mapping by a National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) gives an account of the categories of wastelands which are currently lying unutilised and have the potential to be made arable partially or completely. The Atlas has been developed by the Department of Land resources under the Ministry of Rural Development in collaboration with NRSC, Hyderabad.
In his address, Dr. Joshi said that the use of technology can play a major role in meeting the needs of the rural people and the country and bridge the divide. It also has the potential to change the food security scenario in the country.
Dr. V. Jayaraman, Director, NRSC, Hyderabad said that the exercise has used LANDSAT data and imagery to delineate wastelands across the country and will serve as the base map for the future. Dr. Rita Sinha, Secretary Land Resources in her remarks said that the move will go a long way to ensure food security forever increasing population by additional land cultivation and by preventing the fertile land from degradation.
This is the third State wide Wasteland Atlas compiled by the Department of Land resources. 27 states and many other partners participated in the current project. 23 categories of wastelands were delineated at 1:50,000 scale for entire country using three season (kharif, rabi, and zaid) Resourcesat-1 LISS-III images collected during the period 2005 – 06 following on-screen visual interpretation. The use of three season satellite data has helped improving delineation of wastelands particularly scrub land, waterlogged areas, scrub forests, etc.
A seamless mosaic of wastelands map of entire country in geo-database format has been prepared and the spatial extent of various categories of wastelands estimated. At national level, an estimated 47.23 million hectare (14.91 per cent to total geographical area) land has been delineated as wastelands. The land with dense scrub with an area of 9.3 million hectare is the major category of wastelands followed by land with open scrub (9.16 million hectare), and underutilised /degraded forest-scrub dominated (8.58 million hectare).
The current exercise usages improved sensor data for three season and methodology, WGS 84 datum for wider accessibility of the maps. The resulting maps and statistics should, thus, serve as a base line for regular monitoring of wastelands. Efforts are underway on similar lines for an early release of updated wasteland maps and statistics for 2008-09.