Central government is contemplating an aspiring plan where it proposes to build a green0 belt from Gujarat to Delhi-Haryana border which is said to be 1,400 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide. The idea, though still in nascent stage, has created a lot of head turns and enthusiasm among officials from different ministries who consider it to be a ‘legacy programme’ in nation’s efforts to fight against land degradation and expansion of the Thar desert.
It is believed that once this ‘Wall’, starting from Porbandar to Panipat, will be finished not only aid in the restoration of degraded land via afforestation of Aravali hills which spans through Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi, will additionally form a barrier for the dust that comes from deserts in western part of India and Pakistan.
Official statement says ‘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’.
A similar project ‘Great Green Wall’ of Africa was introduced over a decade ago but has not been completed yet, it is said the reason is the involvements of many countries and communities in its execution. India’s seeking to imitate the idea as a priority under its aim to bring back the 2.6 crore hectare of degraded land by the year 2030.
Since the project is still under ideation stage no official is ready to come and speak openly about the project, saying it would be premature to comment before project is approved. However, it is said once the project is approved restoration process will be done with the help of farmers and various private landowners.
At present, India has 9.6 crore hectare of degraded land which amounts to 29.3% of nation’s total area (32.87 crore hectare). With 2.6 crore hectare of land degraded in the Aravali range, it was the obvious choice for the government for this project. In 2016, ISRO revealed Delhi, Rajastha, and Gujarat were among the UT/States wherein over 50% of the land was degraded land and faced a threat of desertification. One official commented, ‘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’, other ways by which this degraded land can be restored comprises of sustainable farming, and water resource management.
Talking about Africa’s Great Green Wall, African countries pursued global support with finances to make the project a reality by 2030 in the COP14 that was held last month. The venture, launched over a decade ago had support from organisations like World Bank, UNCCD, and European Commission. As of now, only 15% of the project has been completed. Additionally, PCI (Peace Forest Initiative) an inspiration from the Peace park in the middle of Ecuador and Peru, was announced wherein it is proposed to build forest in conflicted areas between two countries, like between South and North Korea (it will lead to demilitarization).