Taking a cue from the “Great Green Wall” running through the width of Africa, the central government is planning to create a 1,400km long and 5km wide green belt from Gujarat to the Delhi-Haryana border. This plan would be a great step in countering climate change, land degradation and stopping the expansion of Thar desert.
The idea of forming a green belt from Porbandar to Panipat will also 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.
India will pick this as a national priority under its goal to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. The green belt would roughly cover the entire degraded Aravali range through a massive afforestation exercise.
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.
“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 towards meeting India’s target,” said an official.