Land Use Pattern in India

Land Use Pattern in India
Posted on 21-08-2023

Land use pattern refers to the arrangement of land utilization, shaped by factors like topography, climate, soil quality, population density, and socio-economic conditions. Variations in land use occur spatially and over time due to the interplay of physical and human factors. India's total land area is approximately 328.73 million hectares, with data available for around 305.90 million hectares.

Key categories of land use in India include:

  1. Net Sown Area (NSA): This is the cultivated land in a given year, serving as the foundation of agricultural production. It constitutes about 6% (141.58 million hectares) of India's reporting area. Factors influencing NSA include soil fertility, irrigation, and climate. Rajasthan holds the largest NSA at 18.35 million ha, followed by Maharashtra.

  2. Area Sown More Than Once: Land where multiple crops are grown annually. This area has risen from 44 million ha in 2000-01 to 57.39 million ha in 2010-11. High-quality soil and reliable water supply drive this category. Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and coastal areas have significant portions under this category.

  3. Forest Area: Land legally designated as forest or managed as potential forest land. Forests cover about 23% of reported area, an improvement from 14% in 1950-51. States like Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, and Maharashtra have large forested areas due to abundant rainfall and terrain.

  4. Land Not Available for Cultivation: Encompasses non-agricultural land use and barren waste areas. Urban development, infrastructure, and unproductive land contribute to this category, amounting to 14% of the reporting area.

  5. Permanent Pastures and Grazing Lands: About 4% (10.3 million ha) of India's land is dedicated to these uses. The land is often insufficient to support the country's livestock population.

  6. Land Under Miscellaneous Tree Crops and Groves: This category includes cultivable land not under net sown area, used for minor agricultural purposes like casuarina trees or fuel groves. The proportion of such land has decreased over time.

  7. Cultivable Waste: Land available for cultivation but not used due to constraints like water scarcity or soil issues. This category constituted around 5% of total area in 2010-11.

  8. Fallow Lands: Temporary uncultivated land, classified as current fallow or fallow other than current fallow. In 2010-11, current fallow occupied 5% of reported area, while fallow other than current fallow occupied 3%.

The evolving land use pattern in India reflects the dynamic interplay between physical, socio-economic, and environmental factors, shaping the country's agricultural and developmental landscape over time.

Resource development refers to the responsible and efficient utilization of natural resources without causing harm to the environment or human well-being. This approach benefits both current and future generations. In India, the predominant land use is for agriculture, covering nearly 60% of the country's land area and contributing significantly to its economy. Other uses include forestry and grazing, making up around 15%, while urbanization occupies less than 5% of the land.

India's land resources, catering to its vast population of over 1.3 billion people, are diverse and essential not only for the nation but also globally. The country possesses abundant arable land, forests, and minerals. About 60% of the land is arable, mainly dedicated to agriculture, which supports roughly half of India's workforce and contributes 15% to its GDP. Major crops include rice, wheat, sugarcane, and cotton, alongside spices and beverages.

Forests cover about 21% of India's land and play a crucial role in the economy, providing timber, fuelwood, and habitat for diverse flora and fauna. These forests also regulate water cycles and prevent soil erosion. Additionally, India holds substantial mineral reserves like iron ore, bauxite, and manganese, crucial for construction and industrial processes.

Various land types exist in India, including mountains, plateaus, plains, and islands. Mountains, covering 30% of India's land, support water flow, irrigation, tourism, and adventure sports. Plains, occupying 43%, are vital for agriculture, industry, and housing. Plateaus, covering 27%, contribute minerals, fossil fuels, and forests to the country's resources.

Land use is influenced by both physical factors (climate, terrain, and soil) and human factors (population, technology, tradition). India's land utilization pattern reflects these influences. Around 44% of the land is net sown area (NSA) for agriculture, while fallow and current fallow areas constitute about 11%. Forests account for 23% of the land, lower than the target of 33% set by the national forest policy due to factors like deforestation and human pressure.

The NSA, encompassing 6% of India's land, is critical for agricultural output. Areas supporting multiple crops are also important, especially in states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. Forested areas, legally designated or managed, contribute to habitat conservation and sustainable resource use. Non-cultivable land includes urban areas, highways, and water bodies, with Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra having significant portions.

Grazing fields and pastures, covering 4%, fall short of the demand due to extensive cattle farming. Land under tree plantations, groves, and orchards also supports agricultural activities. Agricultural waste areas arise due to challenges like water scarcity and soil degradation. States like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh have substantial cultivable wasteland.

Lastly, vacant land comprises both current and non-current fallow areas, with Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh having notable portions. These land categories showcase India's intricate land utilization and resource management, influenced by both natural and human factors.

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