Written by Talent KAS

Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:

Environment [Paper-II]: Issues and concerns related to environment, its legal aspects, policies and treaties for the protection of environment at the National and the International level, Environment protection for sustainable development.


  • Realizing the importance of availability of reliable database on the wastelands of the country, Union Minister for Rural Development, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare & Panchayati Raj has released the fifth edition of Wastelands Atlas – 2019.
  • Wastelands Atlas has earlier been brought out in 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2011.

Wastelands Atlas 2019

  • The Atlas, published jointly by Department of Land Resources and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), provides robust geospatial information on wasteland.
  • The mapping exercise was carried out by NRSC using the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite data.
  • It is helpful in rolling back the wastelands for productive use through various land development programmes and schemes.
  • It provides State and district wise distribution of different categories of wastelands area in the country including mapping of about 12.08 Mha hitherto unmapped area of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The changes in wastelands between 2008-09 and 2015-16 have been presented in the Atlas.

Key Highlights

  • India with 2.4 per cent of world’s land area supports 18 per cent of its population.
  • The per capita availability of agricultural land in India is 0.12 hectare while the world per capita agricultural land is 0.29 hectare.
  • The effort has resulted in estimating the spatial extent of wastelands for entire country to the tune of 55.76 Mha (16.96 per cent of geographical area of the country) for 2015-16 as compared to 56.60 Mha (17.21 per cent) in 2008-09.
  • During this period, 1.45 Mha of wastelands were converted into non-wastelands category.
  • There is a net conversion of 0.84 Mha (0.26 per cent) of different wasteland categories in the country during 2008-09 to 2015-16.
  • A reduction in wasteland area was observed in the categories of land with dense scrub, waterlogged and marshy land, sandy areas, degraded pastures/grazing land and gullied and ravinous land.
  • Majority of wastelands have been changed into categories of ‘croplands’ (0.64 Mha), ‘forest-dense/open’ (0.28 Mha), ‘forest plantation’ (0.029 Mha), ‘plantation’ (0.057 Mha) and ‘industrial area’ (0.035 Mha).
[Source: PIB, Business Standard]

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Talent KAS