To counterbalance urbanisation and industrialisation, which has been exerting pressure on the availability of arable land in Uttar Pradesh, the Yogi Adityanath government has drawn a blueprint to reclaim over 1,71,000 hectares of sodic, arid
and wet lands
across the state.
According to estimates, 68 districts have 3.6 million hectares (MH) of barren, arid, sodic
and wet lands, which could potentially be made arable. The total cropped area in UP is over 25 MH.
The government would spend about Rs 477 crore towards this scheme, which would span 68 of the total 75 districts in UP for reclaiming such swathes of land for agriculture.
The remaining 7 districts comprising the Bundelkhand region have exclusive farm sector schemes.
Meanwhile, the Yogi cabinet has already cleared a proposal to this effect, which would be valid for the next five years beginning this financial year.
This would serve dual purposes of making available additional agricultural land to farmers and tillers, while at the same time boosting farm income, which the Yogi government is targeting to double by 2022 in line with the central roadmap.
The scheme covered under Pandit Deendayal Upadhayay Kisan Samriddhi Yojana, which would continue from 2017-18 to 2021-22.
In this scheme, the state government would accord priority to such pockets, which are predominantly inhabited by small and marginal farmers, scheduled castes and tribes apart from small land allotted.
Over the last 6-7 years, UP had harvested almost 2 million tonnes (MT) of food grain over lakh hectares of reclaimed sodic
land. The market value of this harvest had been estimated at Rs 2,800 crore last year.
During this period, 1,08,000 hectares of land was reclaimed by UP Bhumi Sudhar Nigam
(UPBSN) under World Bank
supported projects while incurring Rs 960 crore. Thus, the harvested food grain valued at Rs 2,800 crore was almost three times the investment of Rs 960 crore.
Established in 1978, UPBSN is mandated to preserving the health and productivity of land resources in a sustainable manner and at the same time protecting, rehabilitating and regenerating potentially cultivable lands.
It works for reclamation of sodic
land and prevention of further sodicity by utilisation of soil reclamation technology, remodelling and maintenance of drains, strengthening agricultural research and extension activities, mobilisation of communities and strengthening institutions involved in reclamation.
During the erstwhile Mulayam Singh Yadav
regime (2004-07), the state had rolled out ‘Bhoomi Sena Yojana’ for reclamation of barren land. Small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers were eligible to become Bhoomi Sainiks. However, the scheme was discontinued under the successive Mayawati rule (2007-12). The previous Akhilesh Yadav dispensation had also prioritised land reclamation.
Over the last 22 years, UPBSN had reclaimed about 4,00,000 hectares of sodic
land across UP for cultivation.