Wastelands Atlas of India by National Remote Sensing Centre and Ministry of Rural Development (2010)

Mapping the wastelands in India

Wastelands Atlas of India - 2010This report presents the latest Wastelands Atlas, put together by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) developed as a part of the “National Wasteland Monitoring Project”. The mapping efforts have generated valuable datasets on unutilized/vacant lands and their use in watershed and wastelands management.

The three sets of Wastelands Atlas of India by NRSC comprise -

Wastelands Atlas of India (2000): The NRSC had created reliable database in the form of a Wastelands Atlas showing the spatial distribution and district-wise area under wasteland under the National Wastelands Inventory Project (NWIP-2000) using satellite data of different periods (1986 – 2000). Wastelands mapping was carried out in different phases considering the critically-affected districts on priority. A 13-fold wastelands classification system was adopted for mapping wastelands at 1:50,000 scale for entire country in five phases using Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) IRS LISS II and IRS 1C LISS III data. An estimated 63.85 M ha of land covering 20.17% of total geographical area of the country were mapped as wastelands.

Wastelands Atlas of India (2005): In order to update the information on severity of degradation which helps in wasteland reclamation programmes, DoLR initiated a project titled “National Wasteland Updation Project” in collaboration with NRSC, during 2003. Using Rabi season IRS LISS III of 2003, the status of wastelands with 28 categories was mapped. According to these estimates, wastelands accounted for 55.64 million ha. The collateral data and ancillary information like watershed boundaries, village boundaries and base details such as settlement locations, transport network, drainage, notified forest boundaries are organized in different layers using standard codification system. The results are published as a National Atlas titled ‘Wasteland Atlas of India – 2005‘, providing district level information.

Wastelands Atlas of India (2010): In order to monitor the changes in wastelands in the country, DoLR initiated a project titled ‘National Wastelands Monitoring Project (NWMP)‘, in collaboration with NRSC, Department of Space. The emphasis in this project was on the study of the dynamics of wastelWAI2010ands through comparison of spatial statistics of different categories between 2006 and 2003, enabling better understanding of changes in some of the wastelands areas. The results of findings of the project provide category-wise and district-wise information on wastelands in various states in the country along with change over the previous study (2003).


These changes in spatial extent of wastelands could be attributed to (i) non-uniform usage of satellite datasets (single season vs. three season); (ii) Differences in the datum and projection of satellite data of the two periods; (iii) inconsistencies in definition and number of categories of wastelands; and (iv) implementation of reclamation programs on wastelands by the Ministry of Rural Development and other Central and State Government agencies.

Apart from Department of Land Resources, this Atlas is being consulted by various user government departments and non-governmental organizations extensively for implementing various development programmes.

Download the complete Wastelands Atlas of India - Department of Land Resources (2010).

Download the state-wise chapters below:


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