Department of Panchayat and Rural Development

Government of Madhya Pradesh







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Integrated Wasteland Development Programme

Projects under IWDP




India shares 16% of the world population, while its land is only 2% of the total geographical area of the world. Naturally, the pressure on the land is often beyond its carrying capacity. Therefore, the productive lands, especially the farmlands in the India are in the constant process of various degrees of degradation and are fast turning into wastelands. At present, approximately 68.35 million hectare area of the land is lying as wastelands in India. Out of these lands, approximately 50% lands are such non-forest lands, which can be made fertile again if treated properly. It was unprotected non-forestlands, which suffered the maximum degradation mainly due to the tremendous biotic pressure on it. In the last 50 years it is India’s lush green village forests and woodlots have been deforested to the maximum. It is precisely to restore this ecological imbalance by developing the degraded non-forest wastelands, Govt. of India had created the Department of Wasteland Development during July,1992 under the Ministry of Rural Development, which has been subsequently reorganized and renamed Department of Land Resources, with a broader mandate.

A degraded Wasteland

National Wasteland Development Board was established in 1985 under the Ministry of Forests and Environment mainly to tackle the problem of degradation of lands, restoration of ecology and to meet the growing demands of fuel wood and fodder at the national level. During the Seventh Five Year Plan, the strategy adopted by the National Wasteland Development Board emphasised more on tree planting activities rather than Community Participation for wasteland development, In the year 1992, the new Department under the Ministry Of Rural Development (now Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment) was created and the National Wasteland Development Board was placed under it. The Board was reconstituted in August 1992 and was made responsible for mainly development of wastelands in non forest areas in totality by involving local people at every stage of development. It aims at creating a scenario where the Government acts as a facilitator and the people at the grass root level become the real executioner of the programme. Major programme implemented for improving the productivity of waste & degraded lands keeping in view the poverty, backwardness, gender & equity is Integrated Wasteland Development Programme.


The problem

The degradation of environment in the fragile Indian sub-topical eco-system is basically attributed to:-

  • Increasing biotic pressure

  • Absence of adequate investments and appropriate management practices.

  • High rate of Population growth and high incidence poverty in rural areas.

  • Over-exploitation of National Resources.

  • The break-down of traditional institutions for managing common property resources and failure of new institutions to fill the vacuum.

  • Faulty land use practices.


  • Soil Erosion & Land Degradation

  • Depletion of natural resources

  • Lower productivity

  • Ground Water Depletion

  • Shortage of Drinking Water

  • Reduction in Species Diversity

  • Increase in the extent of Wastelands

The strategy 

Development of wastelands mainly in non-forest areas aimed at checking land degradation , putting such wastelands of the country to SUSTAINABLE use & increasing bio-mass availability especially that of fuelwood , fodder , fruits, fiber & small timber. Government of India is taking up this colossal task through its INTEGRATED WASTELAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT SCHEME (IWDP) by revitalizing & reviving village level institutions & enlisting people's participation. It is people's own programme which aims at giving them actual decision making powers in terms of project implementation & fund disbursal.

It is one programme which is making sincere efforts towards the empowerment of the people so that a sense of collective responsibility can be evolved among them. The new guidelines for watershed development provides a paradigm shift in the traditional approach where the role of the Government is changed from that of governance to facilitation. The institutional arrangements envisaged in the Guidelines can be seen as a true reflections of the Agenda 21 where the sustainability comes through the involvement of people & the local bodies. The approach of watershed development in a holistic manner automatically strikes a prudent balance between environmental concerns & developmental aspirations. The efforts being made under the guidelines can be termed as sincere & honest as here the survival of life itself is at stake with the watershed development rather than the quality of life itself as compared to similar situations in the developed countries. In fact , the effective community control has been an integral part of the Indian social fabric which was fragmented by the colonial rule. This programme is an effort towards its restoration & a small step in the achievement of this goal which might turn into a big leap with the support from the people.