ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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The Greening of Rajasthan Sans Water

The Greening of Rajasthan: Sans Water Arun Ghosh IT is good occasionally to come out of the ivory tower, to get a breath of fresh air. And the air is nowhere so fresh as in the deserti- fied hills of Rajasthan. For there arc no factories here belching smoke, nor even any vehicles with exhaust gas fumes. In fact, there are no roads worth the name where vehicles could ply. And though there still are some people who live in this forbidding area, even human habitations are few and far between. For miles around one sees nothing but bare hills bereft of any vegetation, where there were, one is told, verdant forests not so long ago. A bare ten, fifteen, twenty kilometres outside of Udaipur, with its palaces and lakes, one is face to face with Nature at her harshest, stripped of her beauty and dignity, ravaged and despoiled. I have been brought to this desolate area by some social workers from a voluntary institution named Seva Mandir based in Udaipur, to see the afforestation programme and other welfare activities undertaken by them and other organisations, in a predominantly tribal area of Udaipur district. Some features of the countryside around would provide useful background information on the area we are talking about. The district of Udaipur has a land area of more than 19 lakh hectares, of which only 18 pet cent is cultivated. Most of the other area is supposed to be under forest cover; indeed, it was from .these forest areas that successive rulers of the erstwhile state of Mewar had fought the might of the Moghal armies, and had successfully resisted the extension of the Moghal empire to the whole of Rajasthan. However, of the total land area, only 18 per cent is under the Forest Department, and not all of even this limited area is under forest cover today. Sadly, much of the so-called "reserved forest" area is today denuded of trees. The rest of the uncultivated area consisting of private lands in undulating, hilly tracts, which were traditionally cither under a tree cover or provided pasture lands, are now barren, unculturable waste land.

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