Therefore, the Government of India through the Central Tractor Organisation (CTO) started operations in 1947-48 to reclaim about 1 million hectares of waste land within a period of 5 years.
Till October 1959, when the C.T.O was closed down 0.68 million hectares of waste land and weed-infested land spread over Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Madras and Punjab States were reclaimed. Jungle clearance was undertaken in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Assam.
The C.T.O was wound up as the state governments wanted to reclaim land themselves, instead of hiring the services of the C.T.O, other problems of follow up cultivation of reclaimed lands also came up.
In June 1959, the Government of India constituted a Committee to make a survey of land classified as other uncultivated land excluding fallow land and ‘Fallow lands other than current fallows’ and to locate areas where large blocks of land were available for reclamation and resettlement. By 1963, the Committee completed its survey in 13 states of Punjab, West Bengal, Bihar, Mysore, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Madras, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Orissa and Gujarat.
The Committee estimated that in these states, about 0.8 million hectares of waste land was available for cultivation in blocks of 100 hectares (or 250 acres) or more. The total waste land in such large blocks in the whole country was estimated at 1.2 million hectares. Typically wastelands in each state were visited by the Committee and were classified according to certain broad criteria, namely those affected by water logging, salinity and alkalinity, soil erosion, and infestation with thick growth of bushes.
After studying the type of soil, rainfall, natural vegetation, etc. suitable reclamation measures were suggested for bringing the areas under cultivation. In addition, wherever necessary, resettlement schemes needed for keeping the areas under cultivation were also proposed. Suitable cropping patterns for various areas and the economics of reclamation in respect of these areas were discussed.
Finally, priorities were indicated among various categories of reclaimable lands. In regard to the data on culturable wastelands, the Committee observed that land classified as culturable waste at the time of settlement sometimes continued to be shown as such in the revenue records long after they had come under cultivation.
In the view of the Committee, the mere collection of statistics under the land culturable waste’ served little purpose and detailed information about the type of wasteland in each state, the ownership of such land, its availability in sizable blocks and the cost of reclamation measures should be collected.
The Committee, therefore, recommended that rapid reconnaissance surveys should be conducted for collecting such information. The Committee further recommended the survey and categorisation of wastelands in blocks measuring less than 100 hectares. For this purpose, several schemes were taken up by different state governments during the Third Plan
Taking into account the total land resources including hills, mountains, lakes, rivers and lands of all descriptions, the availability of land per head in India comes to only 0.58 hectare as compared with the availability of 59 hectares per head in Australia, 45.07 hectares in Canada, 9.06 hectares in U.S.S.R. 4.48 hectares in USA, 2.33 hectares in Burma, 1.21 hectares in Pakistan, 0.43 hectare in U.K and 0.35 hectare in Japan.
It is clear that the availability of land per head in India is among the lowest in the world. This is a natural corollary to the population explosion in old countries such as India. The percentage of arable land to the geographical area in India works out at 46 as compared with 31.8 in France. 23.9 in Pakistan, 29.6 in UK, 27.4 in Burma, 20.4 in USA, 13.0 in Japan, 10.2 in the USSR and 5.8 in Australia.
The proportion of area under agricultural uses (arable land, permanent pastures and grazing land and land under miscellaneous tree crops and grooves) to the total geographical area in India is estimated at 50.60% as compared with 77.2% in the UK, 46.6% in USA, 30.1% in Pakistan. 28.5% in Burma. 27.1% in the U.S.S.R and17.2% in Japan.
The total area under all crops or the gross cropped area, counting the areas sown more than once during a year as many times as they are sown in India during 2008-9 was 195.10 million hectares The difference between the gross cropped area and the net area sown represents the area sown more than once, and this was estimated at 53.74 million hectares. Thus the intensity of cropping representing the percentage of the gross cropped area to the net area sown works out at 141.36.
In India forests account for about 22 percent of the total land surface. On the other hand, in advanced countries the area under forests is often about a third of the total land area.