Land use – UPSC GS1

Explain land use pattern in India and why has the land under forest not increased much since 1960-61? Also examine why majority of landholdings in India are small. (200 Words)

India has a varied land use pattern given the geographical diversity of the country. Land use pattern in India is as follows:
  1. Net Sown Area is 46% of the total geographic area because of extensive availability of flat terrain in India.
  2. About 22% area of the country is under forest cover.
  3. Barren and un-culturable waste land amount to about 8.5%.
  4. About 5.5% is under non-agricultural uses like houses, industries etc.
  5. Rest of the area is under tree crops, grooves, permanent pastures and grazing lands etc.
The land area under forest has increased only marginally from about 18% in 1960s to about 22% at present. This is because of increasing demands for non-forest uses like agriculture, industries etc. Despite government efforts like taking up large scale afforestation programmes, deforestation for development projects like mining, hydropower etc. has not attributed to any large scale increase in forest cover. There are also issues like lacunae in implementation of Forest laws, exclusion of tribal and village communities in conservation efforts have not helped.
Over 80% of the landholdings in India are below 2 hectares. The reasons for such small landholdings are:
  1. Continuous fragmentation of landholdings as a result of increasing population has led to current situation of uneconomical landholdings.
  2. Overwhelming dependence of the country’s workforce on agriculture.
  3. Absence of successful efforts for cooperative farming.
  4. Historical reasons like land distribution and ceiling laws have also contributed to fragmented landholdings.
  5. Sale of a part of their land when unable to pay their debts also lead to smallerĀ  landholdings.



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