Landuse / Landcover

Land use is a description of how people utilize the land and socio-economic activity. At any one point or place, there may be multiple and alternate land uses, the specification of which may have a political dimension. Land cover is the physical material at the surface of the earth. Land covers include grass, asphalt, trees, bare ground, water, etc. This basin holds a variety of land cover and land use classes.

The major part of basin is covered with agriculture accounting to 65.57%. The states falling under Ganga basin are extensively cultivated, constituting approximately about 40% of the total area of the India. Other major Land cover is Deciduous Forest accounting (16%) and statistics of level-I landuse/land cover statistics of the Ganga basin is shown below.

Land use/Land cover statistics (2005-06)


Area (

Percent of Total Area










Built Up Land



Water bodies



Snow / Glaciers














The land being the chief resources has been subject to misuses which have resulted into several land and associated problems. The overgrazing and deforestation in most areas have led to soil erosion and ravine formation on the one hand and have accentuated flooding on the other. For example the Yamunanagar district in Haryana has been subjected to severe ravine-formation, particularly by the Yamuna and the Chambal.

Also land not available for cultivation and fallow land class covers a considerable area of the basin. This category of land consists of tracts which cannot be put to agricultural or silvicultural uses at an economic level due to their unproductive nature, as well all lands put to various other economic uses, such as mineral exploitation or construction of human settlements, industrial structures, roads, railways, airports and other civil works needed for providing transport, communication and similar infrastructural facilities for human habitation. A proportion of the Ganga basin comprises of the non-arable land that is used in urbanization and in construction of homesteads in rural areas which is one of the thickly populated.


The states falling under Ganga basin have only 16.6% of total land areas covered by forest, as compared to India as a whole which has 21.2% of land under forest cover. In some states, especially Haryana, Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal, the forest cover is as low as 0.1 to 13.2% of the geographical area. Most of forest tracts within the Ganga basin are severely degraded on account of over exploitation. As a result, the forest ecosystem in the Ganga basin is under severe stress. Even in the states of Uttarakhand (64.7%), Madhya Pradesh (28.2%) and Himachal Pradesh (19.8%) where the forest cover is higher, the proportion of land actually under dense tree cover within the government forest tracts is very low due to extensive clear felling of trees carried out in recent decades. Click here to view the landuse/land cover map of Ganga basin.

(Souce: India-WRIS)