The land is one of the most valuable resources that we have and unfortunately, it is very limited. Therefore, if this limited resource is rendered unusable than our existence as species is threatened.
The process by which land is contaminated is known as pollution. Land pollution can lead to the complete alternation of its mineral composition, structural performance and ability to sustain life-like plants (soil erosion).
These changes can take decades and even centuries to consolidate which means that when visible changes appear, the damage has already become beyond easy fix.
The various effects of land pollution range from dangerous to catastrophic. Percolation of land pollution to groundwater reserves can wreak havoc in terms of diseases and toxicity.
Retarded growth in children and various nutrient deficiencies can be traced back to polluted land where the food is cultivated. Soil erosion due to land pollution can deplete the fertility of the soil which directly impedes its ability to produce food grains and vegetables.
The various land pollutants are also carried into rivers and lakes through surface runoff and contaminate their waters with contaminants and nutrients causing eutrophication (ageing) which is adverse for various plants and animals. Dumping of solid waste like landfill etc also change the structural composition of the land and makes it more vulnerable to disasters like earthquake etc.
Land pollution can occur due to several factors and causative agents. The foremost is the degradation of forest or deforestation. Trees and plants in general, help to bind the soil together and if there are no trees, soil can easily be carried away by water or wind.
This further causes desertification of land which is an even more stressful scenario to correct. The exploitation of land for mineral extraction has historically caused much damage to the land rich with mineral deposits.
Overuse of chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers etc also depletes the health of natural soil. Dumping of domestic garbage, solid waste, plastic or e-waste, industrial effluents further deteriorates the quality of land available for its different uses.
The strategy to redress such land damage is to start by planting more trees and bringing more areas under their coverage. Safe disposal waste and possible recycle and reuse is also of paramount importance.
This should be complemented with reduction and possible elimination of material like polythene bags and adopting more environmentally friendly options like jute etc. Shifting from chemical-based farming to more organic and natural methods is also of utmost importance.
All these practices need to be incentivized by appropriate schemes and policy decisions at the governance level. Stringent land-use violation laws and apt penalties must be exercised in order to create formidable deterrence for the defaulter.
Therefore, all our efforts need to be coordinated with solid planning and sustainable use of land resources.