Haryana to combat Aravalli's desertification

Haryana to combat Aravallis desertification
The view over the Aravalli Hills from the top of Jaigarh Fort in Amer, Jaipur.

Haryana - Conservation plan to be launched on June 17

By C P Surendan

Published: Mon 5 Jun 2017, 1:59 PM

Last updated: Mon 5 Jun 2017, 4:04 PM

The Aravalli is a range of mountains in western India running some 692km in a northeastern direction across the Indian states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana, and ending in Delhi. It regulates the weather system of the region besides affording natural forest cover.
Its importance calls for its protection. However, a recent survey says the Aravalli range is in imminent danger of desertification.
Worried over the news, the Haryana government is set to launch a programme next week to take steps to conserve the forest area.
The survey by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) pointed to 12 big gaps that have appeared owing to sand drift. The gaps exponentially raise the risk of the area turning into an extension of the Thar desert.

Conservationists and environment activists on Monday - the World Environment Day - said the creeping up of the desert into the Aravalli must be checked without delay.
The 12 identified gaps on the Aravalli hills extend from Magra hills in Ajmer district to Khetri-Madhogarh hills in Jhunjhunu district and the northern-most hillocks in Mahendragarh district of Haryana.
The vulnerable areas in the Aravalli include Dungarpur-Banswar on the Aravalli Range, Upper Banganga Valley, Magra Area, Girwa-Gogunda tract, Jaisamand lake area, Daragarh-Banara-Maja-Dariba area, Abu-Sirohi and Chappan Hills in the south Aravalli.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said he would be fighting against the desertification on a war-footing. He is scheduled to inaugurate the conservation programme at Bhondsi on June 17. The state government is in the process of preparing a roadmap that will be rolled out on the same day.
Haryana is especially concerned as the state has less than 4 per cent of forest cover, and the government aims to increase it by 10 per cent over the next three years. In places like Gurgaon, ground water level is depleting at an alarming pace.
The state's plan to fight desertification is likely to include  sustainable land use to  fix issues such as overgrazing, overexploitation of plants, trampling of soils and irrigation practices that cause and worsen desertification.
Protecting the soil from wind and water erosion helps to prevent the loss of ecosystem during droughts. This means vegetation cover over the soil must go up considerably. This, in turn, means reforestation.
Alternative livelihoods for natives that are less demanding on local land and natural resource use, such as dry land aquaculture for production of fish, crustaceans and industrial compounds, limit desertification.
Though mining in the Aravalli has been stopped by the Supreme Court, illegal extraction does continue. The government has decided to keep a stricter vigil over this.
The survey warned that any change in the Aravalli will affect eastern Rajasthan, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Delhi as the entire area act as a water divide between the Indus basin in the Northwest and Ganga basin in the East covering extensive areas of this region.
Upsetting the Aravalli ecosystem will drastically change the weather patterns of these states which in summer now touch 48 to 52 degrees Celsius. On Sunday, Delhi at 47.2 recorded the highest temperature in 62 years in the first part of summer. The Haryana CM has felt the heat. He said no efforts will be spared to stop the desertification of the Aravalli range.

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