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Targets for restoration of degraded land raised to 26 million hectares: Modi at COP14

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 26, 2019 Published on September 09, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the 14th Conference of Parties (COP 14) United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, at India Expo Centre & Mart, in Greater Noida.   -  PTI

He said that India would like to extend its cooperation in addressing issues of climate change, biodiversity and land degradation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing close to 200 countries at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification's (UNCCD) during the ongoing Conference of Parties (COP14) in New Delhi, said that India has revised it's land restoration targets to an upward of 26 million hectares from previously set target of 21 million hectares.

"The targets to restore degraded land will be achieved by 2030. This will create a carbon sink for India of close to three billion metric tonnes through additional tree cover," Modi said. He also claimed that between 2015 to 2017, India's tree cover increased by 0.8 million hectares.

He said that according to the law, land diverted for industrial purposes has to be compensated by adequate amount of land being afforested. "Also, monetary payment has to be made for value of timber that the diverted land may yield. Only last week, close to Rs 40,000 - Rs 50,000 crore was released to provincial governments in lieu of diversion of forest land," he said.

Union Minister for Environment Prakash Javadekar explained that afforestation will be annually monitored through remote sensing satellites, electronic chips, as well as drone photography. "Every plant will be geo-tagged," he said. Javadekar however refused to comment on country's current progress on restoring the previously set target of 21 million hectares. He also did not elaborate when asked about the budget commitments or the detailed timeline to achieve new targets.

A senior environment ministry official said that the scale for which land has been diverted may not exactly match with release of compensation funds or afforestation. "There may be difference in the scale," the official told BusinessLine.

Modi also said that desertification of land affects two thirds of the entire world and greater South-South co-operation is important in this regard. "India also looks forward to making an effective contribution to take over co-presidency for a term of two years in this regard," the said.

He said that upto 27 lakh soil health cards had been distributed to the farmers to help them ascertain the quality of their soil which will lead to informed decisions on what crops they can produce.

Modi emphasised on menace of plastic waste and said that the government was committed to ending single use plastic. "We are committed to environment-friendly substitutes and effective plastic collection and dispensable methods," he said.

Every single day 30,000 tonnes of single use plastic waste is generated, said Javadekar, of which only 20,000 tonnes is collected, the remaining 10,000 tonnes is left uncollected and dumped. "That is a huge issue," he said.

Published on September 09, 2019

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