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Industries can make money reclaiming 90 million hectares degraded land: Anil Kumar Jain, Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment 

Aug 29, 2019


NEW DELHI, 29 August 2019: Mr Anil Kumar Jain, Special Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India today offered 90 million hectares of degraded land or 30% of India's total land area to industries that can reclaim the land and give it some economic value.


Speaking at 'Role of Business and Industry in Land Restoration, Utilization of Degraded and Wasted Land', organised by FICCI as a run-up to the COP-14 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Mr Jain urged the industry to come up with business models for reclaiming the degraded land.


"More than 90 million hectares of 320 million hectares of total area or about 30% of India is wasteland. This should immediately be brought back into economic use. It is a big elephant in the room which all stakeholders including industry need to solve," he said, adding that the industry should see it as a business opportunity.


Mr Jain said that the COP creates an offer of a dialogue for all stakeholders to get together and work towards monetising the degraded land both for environment and mutual benefit. Concept of mutual benefit is also there in climate change, he said.


"We are not here to take money. In fact, we are here to tell you that please make money. This is an offer to any corporate, industrial house or activity which relates to land. So, this offer is for infrastructure, food-based, biomass, energy companies and also those businesses that leave a lot of environmental footprints," he added.


Dr Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification said that FICCI's event is the first event in the run-up to COP-14 starting on Monday, September 2, where India is likely to show a very strong leadership role.


"Investing in land restoration makes economic sense. We have done economic studies around the world and we feel if we invest $1 in land restoration, you can get $5-$7 back, which makes a lot of business sense. Every 10 hectares can give you two direct jobs and there can be many indirect jobs," Dr Monga said.


Dr Mukund Rajan, Chairman, FICCI Environment Committee and Chairman Q-ECube India ESG Fund said that FICCI welcomes Environment Minister Mr Javadekar's commitment that India will convert degraded land of nearly 5 million hectares to fertile land in the next 10 years. Mr Rajan congratulated him on his promise that on the issue of desertification "India will lead from the front and move the world in a positive direction".


He also emphasized on the interconnectedness of land restoration with India's climate targets of 2.5-3 billion tonnes of COequivalent as carbon sinks and highlighted some of the initiatives taken by Indian companies including circular urban wastewater management, agroforestry, organic farming, afforestation and watershed management.


Dr NH Ravindranath, Professor, IISc Bangalore and Expert, UNCCD said that 29% to 35% of the total geographical area of India is subjected to land degradation and reclaiming these lands would benefit both the local community and the country.






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Event:  Conference on Role of Business and Industry in Land Restoration, Utilisation of Degraded and Wasted Land


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