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India has raised by 10% the area of degraded land that the country has agreed to restore by 2030, Prime Minister Narendera Modi said on Monday.

“I would like to announce that India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status, from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares, between now and 2030,” he said in his keynote address at the high-level ministerial segment at the United Nation Conference of Parties summit on land degradation held at Greater Noida.

On August 27, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, during a prelude to the UN summit, said that India would restore “5 million hectares” between 2021 and 2030. Mr. Modi, in his address, said that this target would be achieved with an emphasis on “degraded agricultural, forest and other wasteland by adopting a landscape restoration approach”.

India faces a severe problem of land degradation, or soil becoming unfit for cultivation. About 29%, or about 96.4 million hectares, of its land is considered degraded.

This January, India became part of the “Bonn Challenge”, a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. At the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris, India joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge and pledged to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2020, and an additional 8 million hectares by 2030.

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