India's 90-mn hectare degraded land business opportunity for industries: Env Min official

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
More than 90 million hectares of India's degraded land area should be seen as a business opportunity by industries and it should be brought back to economic use, a senior official of the Environment Ministry said on Thursday.
Speaking on 'Role of Business and Industry in Land Restoration, Utilization of Degraded and Wasted Land', ministry's Special Secretary A K Jain urged industries to come up with business models for reclaiming the degraded land.
The event was organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) in run-up to the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), commencing here next week.
"More than 90 million hectares of 320 million hectares of total area or about 30 per cent of India is wasteland. This should immediately be brought back into economic use. It is a big elephant in the room that all stakeholders including industries need to solve. The industry should see it as a business opportunity," he said.
Jain said the COP 14 offers a platform to all stakeholders to get together and have a dialogue to work towards monetising the degraded land both for environment and mutual benefit.
"We are not here to take money. In fact, we are here to tell you that please make money. This is an offer to any corporate, industrial house or activity which relates to land. So, this offer is for infrastructure, food-based, biomass, energy companies and also those businesses that leave a lot of environmental footprints," he added.
Pradeep Monga, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNCCD said that FICCI's event is the first in the run-up to COP-14 starting on September 2, where India is likely to take a very strong leadership role.
"Investing in land restoration makes economic sense. We have done economic studies around the world and we feel if we invest USD 1 in land restoration, you can get USD 5-7 back, which makes a lot of business sense. Every 10 hectares can give you two direct jobs and there can be many indirect jobs," Monga said.

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First Published: Aug 29 2019 | 7:45 PM IST

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