The Centre is mulling an ambitious plan to create a 1,400km long and 5km wide green belt from Gujarat to the Delhi-Haryana border, on the lines of the “Great Green Wall” running through the width of Africa, from Dakar (Senegal) to Djibouti, to combat climate change and desertification.
Though the idea is at a nascent stage, it has already generated a lot of excitement among officials in different ministries who believe that the project, if approved, may turn out to be a legacy programme in India’s efforts to deal with land degradation and the eastward march of the Thar desert.
They believe the idea of forming a green belt from Porbandar to Panipat will not only help in restoring degraded land through afforestation along the Aravali hill range that spans across Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi, but also act as a barrier for dust coming from the deserts in western India and Pakistan.
The idea of creating a huge green belt was part of the agenda of the recently held conference (COP14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in India. It, however, could not be taken up there as final clearance is still awaited,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
Though the “Great Green Wall” of Africa, mooted almost a decade ago, is still far from reality due to the involvement of many countries in its implementation, India seeks replicate the idea as a national priority under its goal to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
However, no official was willing to speak about the plan on record, saying it would be premature to discuss it before the approval stage.
They said the green belt may not be contiguous, but would roughly cover the entire degraded Aravali range through a massive afforestation exercise. Once approved, its implementation will start with degraded forest and with more stretches coming in for restoration after taking farmers (and other private landholders) on board.
The Aravali has been identified as one of the key degraded zones to be taken up for greening under India’s target to restore 26 million hectares (mha) of its land. India has, at present, 96.4 mha of degraded land which is 29.3% of the country’s total geographical area (328.7 mha).
The desertification and land degradation atlas of India, brought out by the ISRO in 2016, revealed that Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi were among states/UT where more than 50% of the total area was degraded land and those under the threat of desertification.
So far, work on nearly 15% of the wall is under way.
Reference: The Times of India