MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States

Source: The post is based on the article “MGNREGS to fund work to reverse desertification of land across the States” published in The Hindu on 4th October 2022.

What is the News?

The government is now planning to bring convergence between the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY). This is because of the limited funds to deal with the enormous task of restoring degraded land and reversing desertification in the country.

What is the status of degraded land in India?

According to the Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas released by the Environment Ministry in 2021, at least 30% of India’s total geographical area is under the category of “degraded land”.

Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat and Goa have more than 50% of the land area undergoing desertification or degradation. On the other hand, States with less than 10% land degradation are Kerala, Assam, Mizoram, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Arunachal Pradesh.

Read more: Land degradation in India hurts farmers and forest dwellers the most
What is the need for the convergence of MGNREGS and PMKSY?

In 2019, the government raised its target of restoration of degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares by 2030 following a commitment made during the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (COP14).

The constraints posed to the economy by the pandemic restricted the target to 4.95 million hectares by 2025-26. Nearly three years on, the government is nowhere near this target.

Therefore, there is a compelling reason for the Ministry to explore alternative opportunities to fulfil the commitment.

Read more: Despite PM Modi’s assurance, land degradation, desertification increasing
What will be the impact of the convergence of MGNREGS and PMKSY?

By making use of the MGNREGS, which for the financial year 2022-23 has a budget of ₹73,000 crores, the government can scale up the degraded area to be covered.

As of now, there is the Centre allocated above ₹8100 crores for developing 4.95 million hectares.

Convergence with the MGNREGS and PMKSY could help take up treatment of about 30% more land than feasible with the current scheme size.


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