Govt plans 1,400km long great ‘green wall’ of In­dia

For­est To Fight Degra­da­tion, Dust Pol­lu­tion

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Front Page - Vishwa.Mo­han @times­group.com

New Delhi: 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 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 cre­at­ing a green belt from Por­ban­dar to Pa­ni­pat will help re­store de­graded land through af­foresta­tion along the Aravali range that spans across Gu­jarat, Ra­jasthan, Haryana and Delhi, and 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 re­cent con­fer­ence (COP14) of the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion to Com­bat De­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion (UNCCD) in In­dia. But it could not be taken up there as fi­nal clear­ance is 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 land with more stretches com­ing in for restora­tion af­ter tak­ing farm­ers 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 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). “A legacy pro­gramme like con­vert­ing such a huge tract of land as a green belt in high-in­ten­sive land-de­graded states will be great boost,” said an of­fi­cial.

Full re­port on www.toi.in

Rough con­tours of pro­posed 1,400km ‘green wall’ For­est belt likely to run roughly from cov­er­ing en­tire Aravali range and be­yond ‘Green wall’ will act as bar­rier for dust from west and check east­ward march of Thar desert by It will check de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion Project yet to get for­mal nod, de­tails to be worked out

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