And it locates in the western part of India with the dry climatic condition and low average rainfall (70-90mm/year) in the past 5 decades. “During monsoons, hardly get 15-20 days of rainfall and therefore the remaining year has been worse,”, said environmental data.
The Thar Desert is the 18th largest subtropical desert in the world. The maximum part is a hot arid zone, spread 800 Km Long and 400Km wide area. Most of this is within the western Rajasthan (61%), while 20% in Gujrat, 9% in Punjab and Haryana’s combined and Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka together having rest 10% area.
In this article, we have tried to explain the reason behind the expansion of the Thar Desert and its bad effect on human lives and have also suggested possible solutions by which we can minimize or stop its expansion.
Why the Indian desert “Thar” growing fast?
The Thar Desert is expanding and increasing its area since the two decades towards a man-made catastrophe. western Rajasthan many districts suffered from different kinds of land degradation contributing to desertification, said to a report by Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI).
Apart from above mentioned reason, low rainfall also the cause of this rapid increase in the desert. Last few decades the, average rainfall (70-90mm/year) is very low. The average temperature of the desert is also increasing since last 5 decades
This was also compiled using multiple independent studies including the India Remote Sensing Satellite data 2015-16.
As we already know that, The Thar desert comes between the Aravalli hills in the northeast and the Runn of Kutch in the northwest. So the Desert is growing in both east and northeast directions, experts say, and warn that desertification is about to become the more serious challenge to the Indian continent.
“Northwestern Thar Desert’s projections indicate a substantial increase in the desert area over India in the next 10 decades,” said scientists P. Goswami and K.V. Ramesh of the Centre of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Problems behind the Spreading of Thar Desert
The general features of desertification are wind erosion, water erosion, salinity/ alkalinity, waterlogging, mining and vegetation degradation to conclude that the situation may take decades to reverse the damage. Herewith some more details, why this Indian desert, Thar is expanding?
Human Activities that affect climatic area:
The Thar desert is the most densely populated desert across all, having a population density of 83 people per km approximately. Rainfall is only 100-130 mm/year out of which mostly comes in July to September only. So due to lack of water, the transformation of the grassland into cropland has been very slow.
And the main occupation of people living in the desert is agriculture and animal husbandry. Agriculture is not a dependable proposition in this area-after the rainy season, at least 33% of crops fail. As the rainfall is very low resulting in no cropping, so people are dependent on animal husbandry and the result is overgrazing which increases the rate of spreading the area of the Thar desert.
This is one of the major cause of the spreading of the desert over the last 10-15 years. Land thunders of dynamite blasts are taking place regularly and the sound can be heard even from a close range of even two miles in the desert reason. The activities of mining having the use of drilling and explosives in hills in broad daylight. The impact of dynamite, ammonium nitrate or TNT explosions is very intense and can change even the internal structure of a deep desert.
Large-scale mining has been mapped in Jhunjhunu, Jalore, Jodhpur, Barmer for the minerals and building materials, which has impacted the equilibrium. The vegetation cover has gone forever, making the land vulnerable
The population is increasing but there is no simultaneous growth of farming which resulted in more people moving towards animal husbandry, trees and grasses. And as it is a drought-prone area, so the region faces droughts frequently.
So the increased population leads to the requirement of more animals which lead to overgrazing of limited grass area, wind and water erosion, and the activities result in serious land degradation and exploitation.
The Babul tree growing to a height of up to 14-15 meter, mature babul need excess water to grow as its roots get water from the deep in the ground. In 1960, they were discovered at a depth of 53 meters (175 ft) in the search of water.
Due to over plantation of the babul, water availability decreasing year by year, which is very harmful for a longer duration because this reason already facing a heavy shortage of water.
The exploitation of local vegetation:
“The destruction of vegetation due to overgrazing, felling of trees, etc. have accelerated the removal of sediments from the catchment areas of water bodies as well as the loosening of farm soil,” said Yadav, director, CAZRI.
As we know, the Thar is arid and that’s why already poor in vegetation. However, the flora of this area provides useful, commercially important floral species.
In recent years, many such valuable species have become rare or nearly extinct owing to an increase in population and commercial activities, indiscrimination exploitation, biotic pressure, mining activities, destruction collection and lack of regeneration effort.
And Another is “The biggest reason contributing to desertification turned out to be water erosion. Our report suggested that 64.69% of the mapped area is facing wind erosion. For instance, 10% of land degradation in districts like Barmer, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur is due to water erosion,” said OP, director, CAZRI.
How Can We Control Expansion of Desert, Some Suggestions
Management of resources:
Scientific management of resources and conversation of endangered species able to generate the fantastic scope of commercial activities and opportunities of employment for people residing.
And this can lead to connect this area as mainstream and come under the administrative socio-economic development plan of the country.
Introduction of fast-growing tree species:
The indigenous tree species growing in the desert are not only a few in numbers but also extremely slow-growing. So, great efforts & attention is required in the plantation of fast-growing trees with massive plantation drives.
Sand dunes should be stabilized:
As it is very little rainfall, huge shifting sand dunes are very often, particularly near human habitats, so there are some suggested techniques required for stabilization of shifted sand dunes are:
- Protection against biotic interference.
- Treatment of shifting sand dunes by fixing barriers in parallel strips or in ‘chess board’ design, using the local shrub material starting from the crest of the dunes to protect the seedling.
- Using the appropriate numbers of Phog (Calligonum Polygonoides). As it is a very useful species of the desert because of its ability to growing naturally on the sand dunes. It has a massive network of underground root which work as an effective ‘sand binder’.
Reduce wind speed by planting Shelterbelt plant:
Shelterbelts and tree screens consisting of a row of trees. So these are very effective in controlling the expansion of desert reason.
Increase the network of cannel and support the Green Wall of India.:
This is also, one of the best solution to control the expansion of the desert Thar. As when we provide water in the arid desert, then flora, grazing grass and tree will automatically start to grow and things start to improve.
By increasing the channel in the desert and cover as maximum as possible can lead to an increase in some greenery. Immediately implementation of government long-awaited 1400 km, “Green Wall of India” like Great Green Wall of Africa.
And here the final conclusion is, we can manage the expansion of the great Indian desert “Thar” and save endangered area to become the part of it, but only if we utilize use our resources wisely, stop illegal mining, use adaptable plant scientific and specific species with the scale of plantation in local climatic condition and work as a sand binder and decrease dependence on natural resources.
The problem is for a long but these restoration efforts are an exception & insufficient. The Thar is a victim of unscientific practices that have destroyed pastures & forest.