Here is your paragraph on India’s Achievements in the field of soil conservation!
Soil and water conservation measures have been adopted as one of the essential inputs for increasing agricultural output in the country right from the beginning of the First Five Year Plan.
Appreciating the value of soil and the seriousness of the problem of soil erosion, the Central Government as well State Governments have taken a number of steps to conserve soil.
The soil and water conservation division set up by Central Government in the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation aims at providing an overall perspective of problems like water and wind erosion, degradation through water-logging, salinity, ravines, torrents, shifting cultivation and coastal sands.
Another scheme was sponsored by the Central Government in the Third Plan which aimed at preventing premature siltation of multi-purpose reservoirs. Scheme of Flood-Prone Rivers (FPR) was started in the Sixth Five Year Plan. Both the schemes were clubbed together during the Ninth Five Year Plan.
Under the programme for the catchment management of River Valley Projects and Flood Prone Rivers, 53 catchments are covered, spread over 27 states. The total catchment area is 96.14 million hectares with Priority Area needing urgent treatment in 26 million hectares. Out of this 5.86 million hectares have been treated till 2003-04.
The trio of salinity-alkalinity-acidity leads to deficiency in chemical-biological nutrients and their problem has been acquiring increasing importance. Reclamation of saline and alkaline soils is a difficult task. Removal of the top soil, providing proper drainage to the waterlogged areas, avoiding seepage of water from canals, installing tube-wells in canal irrigated areas, and afforestation are some of the measures which can check the growth of unwanted salts in these soils.
Application of farmyard manures, green manures, and addition of gypsum, lime, and sulphur can add to the fertility of these soils. Cultivation of salt-resistant crops like rice, barseem, barley, jowar and sugarcane has been suggested in such soils. A centrally sponsored scheme for reclamation of alkaline (usar) soils initiated in the seventh Five Year Plan is continuing in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
The scheme was been extended to Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan during the Eighth Five Year Plan. During Ninth Plan extension of the scheme to all other states was approved where alkali soil problems exist as per scientific parameter.
The scheme aims at improving physical conditions and productivity status of alkali soils for restoring optimum crop production. An area of 0.62 million hectares out of 3.5 million hectares of alkali land has been reclaimed till the end of 2003-04.
Land reclamation in the ravines spreading over 27.65 lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat is a challenging job. A ravine reclamation programme was launched in 1987-88 which was transferred to state sector in 1991-92 as per decision of the National Development Council.
Major components of the ravine reclamation programme are peripheral bunding to halt any ingress of ravines, table land treatment in vicinity of upstream of the peripheral bund, afforestation, irrigation of shallow ravines and rehabilitation. About 1.266 lakh hectares of land has been treated so far.
Contour bunding and levelling have been very effective in checking soil erosion and in increasing crop yields. In Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab, an increase of 25 per cent in the crop yields has been recorded as a result of contour bunding. This has also increased the water recharging capacity of wells in the adjoining areas.
According to the reports of National Commission on Agriculture, the ‘Kharif’ and ‘Rabi’ crops raised in semi-arid alluvial plains of Uttar Pradesh have recorded yield increases of 35 per cent due to bunding and 60 per cent due to levelling. By bench terracing in the Kunda catchement in Nilgiris (Tamil Nadu) potato yields have gone up by 15-65 per cent.
A scheme for controlling shifting agriculture was implemented in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 1986-87. A larger scheme was launched in 1987-88 to cover nine states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Till 1990-91,26,532 families were selected for rehabilitation.
The scheme involves different activities such as land development, irrigation, agriculture, horticulture, cottage industries, fisheries, social and fuel- wood forestry and minimum housing programmes. During Eight Plan 67 thousand hectare areas was treated through treatment packages. During Ninth Plan upto March 2002, i.5 lakh hectares had been treated. The new guidelines for the scheme on the basis of new watershed to common approach have been effective from November 2000. During Tenth Plan, an area of 0.4 lakh hectares has been treated upto 2003-04.
All India Soil and Land Survey Organisation are using remote sensing technology to keep itself abreast of the latest trends.