Urban spread into agricultural land could cost India dear

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 15, 2012 13:00 hrs

Hyderabad, Oct 15 (IANS) The loss of agricultural land to urbanisation, combined with insufficient planning for food supply lines, places severe constraints on future food security for India's growing population, a UN assessment released Monday warned.

The assessment, which draws on contributions from more than 123 scientists worldwide, states that India's growing urban clusters such as the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridor are likely to transform entire regions, with significant impact on habitat and biodiversity.

"India is experiencing a massive trend towards urbanisation. Currently, India's urban population is about 30 percent and is expected to become 50 percent by 2045. This will have significant implications for the country's environment, ecology and sustainability," it said.

The assessment highlights the need to factor in these implications into planning for development. "The rate of urban land expansion in India during the next 20 years is expected to be high, because the country is investing heavily in large scale infrastructure. Urban growth, especially in areas adjacent to forest land and protected areas, increases pressure on these ecosystems through habitat fragmentation, poorly regulated development and pollution," it said.

All is not gloomy as the assessment pointed that India has a cultural tradition of respect for wildlife, as well as for deliberative political processes, which in most cities include civil society groups and non-governmental organisations.

"This may offer a window of opportunity for adjusting development to accommodate biodiversity," it said.

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