No one is alien to the fact that deforestation and desertification are only going to worsen the climate change catastrophe that is slowly taking over the planet. Still, the Maharashtra government axed 2000 trees in Mumbai’s green lung in the name of development.
— AAP महाराष्ट्र (@AAPMaharashtra) October 4, 2019
But like the Supreme Court’s order to stay tree felling in Aarey came after thousands of trees were chopped, the central government has finally started thinking about the consequences of deforestation. In a bid to restore the rapidly shrinking green area in the country, the government is planning to create a 1400km-long and 5km wide green belt.
The green belt that is ideated on the lines of Africa’s ‘Great Green Wall’ is proposed to run from Gujarat to Delhi-Haryana border, aiming to combat climate change and deforestation. According to TOI, the green belt which will stretch from Porbandar to Panipat will help in restoring degraded land along the Aravalli hill range across Gujarat, Haryana and Delhi. The green wall is also believed to act as a barrier for the dust coming from the deserts in western India and Pakistan.
According to an official:
“The idea had been a part of the agenda of the recently held conference (COP14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in India.”
However, the project is still awaiting financial clearance. Reportedly, this comes after a 2016 ISRO report that revealed that more 50% of the land in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi had been degraded.
Through the plan, the government is looking to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. Once approved, the project will start with a massive afforestation exercise in the degraded land of the Aravalli range.
India has, at present, 96.4 million hectares (mha) of degraded land which is 29.3% of the country’s total geographical area (328.7 mha).
While the project that is yet to see the light of the day looks promising in tackling climate change, the question remains, how soon are we going to implement this?