How to make Barren Land into Fertile Land?
Pragati Resorts, Hyderabad shows the path
(Dr Shankar Chatterjee, Hyderabad)
Soil is important in our life as soil provides every necessary item for human lives and also for other animals and insects. Prevention of soil erosion is the sine qua non. With the growing number of the human population if the soil is not protected then crises may crop up in the future. To prevent soil erosion vis-à-vis making barren land into highly fertile land a case from Hyderabad city of Telangana, India is presented here, which is known as Pragti Resorts. Prior to that a few lines on soil erosion I am presenting here.
Soil erosion means the moving of sediments like topsoil, rocks, and pebbles because of the flowing of water, storm, breeze, etc. It is evident that there are many harmful effects of soil erosion, inter alia of which, are it affects the quality of the soil and reduces the productivity of soil to a great extent even sometimes land becomes barren. It may be mentioned here that the National Bureau of Soil Survey & Land Use Planning (NBSS & LUP) estimates that soil erosion extends to about 119.2 million hectares of area in India. The average annual rate of soil erosion in the country is 16.35 tonnes per hectare i.e. 5334 million tonnes per year.
It is observed from various research studies that to prevent soil erosion planting vegetation as ground cover is the sine qua non. It is also suggested that to prevent soil erosion planting herbs, wild flowerers, small trees, etc., is good. Another measure to prevent soil erosion is mulching of soil which to a great extent prevents soil erosion. Generally mulching is done by putting dead leaves and shredded wood on the soil. Also, it is observed from the studies that matting the soil is an essential step to prevent soil erosion. Matting is the process of covering the soil with biodegradable materials that include mulch, straw, coconut fibre, wood chips, etc. Another important measure continuing from time immemorial is contour farming and terracing. This is the practice of tilling sloped land along lines of consistent elevation in order to conserve rainwater and reduce soil losses from surface erosion. In many places in north-east India, such practice can be seen. Even I have seen in many countries of the world where I visited.
To prevent soil erosion vis-à-vis making barren land into highly fertile and a case from Hyderabad city of Telangana, India is presented here. The case is from Pragati Resorts of Hyderabad. Dr. G.B.K. Rao, is the Chairman cum Managing Director (also an industrialist-turned-environmentalist) of Pragati Resorts in Hyderabad, a famous bio-diversity park with pristine beauty that can be observed in the Resorts. Dr. Rao is Chairman Expert Committee (Agriculture & Food Processing), Southern Regional Council, ICC. Pragati Resorts is one of the World’s First Resorts to obtain integrated ISO certification and a Green rating from the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). Pragati Resorts has been established in 1994 and at that time the area was totally barren with terrible climate conditions such that even lizards would not lay eggs there. The water in the area was depleted due to the mining of limestone which made the land unfit for cultivation. Dr. G.B.K Rao selected the land on the basis of three criteria– i) it was away from the city and also away from the highway, ii) the area was un-cultivable /barren, and iii) totally depleted of water. Now, the area has been turned into heaven and the people call it “Pragati is Heaven on Earth”. The data reveal that a little more than800 herbal and medicinal plants, and other rare ‘Mother Plants and Trees’ inter alia of which are ‘kalpavrukshalu’ have been planted and nurtured in Pragati Resorts. It is pertinent to mention that ‘kalpavrukshalu’ is also known as ‘kalpavriksha’, ‘kalpataru’, ‘kalpadruma’, or ‘kalpapādapa’, which is a wish-fulfilling divine tree in Indian religions namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. I suggest visiting the area just to get an idea so that we can do something to prevent soil erosion and how barren land can be made fully fertile. Dr. G.B.K Rao is a great example as he has done in reality by showing us the path to go ahead. (Author is a former Professor & Head (CPME), NIRD & PR, Hyderabad)