Area or Location of Indian Desert:
About one-third of the entire state of Rajasthan belongs to the desert region. The states of Punjab and Haryana are located to the north of the desert regions. This desert also is surrounded by the state of Gujarat on the southern side, the Aravalli Range on the eastern side, and the desert region of Pakistan on the western side.
- The total area of the Thar desert is 2.69 lakh square kilometres. Out of which almost 1.97 lakhs square kilometre comes under the Indian Desert. It is the world’s 20th-largest desert.
- The highest elevation in the Indian desert region is over 150 meters. However, the elevation of the deltaic region of the Luni river of this region is about 20 meters high.
The Cause Behind the Desertification:
1) The special geographical location of this region has helped to create deserts. When a branch of the southwest monsoon winds of the Arabian Sea collects water vapour from the Arabian Sea, it causes heavy rainfall on the western slopes of the Western Ghats. But when it crosses over Saurashtra and the coastal region of Kutch and flows over the desert region, Then there is not enough water vapour in this air.
2) There are no high mountains in this region. The only mountain in the region is the Aravalli, which extends in the north-south direction. That is why the monsoon winds are not so interrupted in this region.
3) In the summer season, one kind of warm air blows over the region. this warm air is dry and without water vapour. Due to these reasons, the region receives very little rainfall throughout the year( less than 25 cm). In some years, this region receives absolutely no rainfall. Due to the lack of rainfall, plants do not grow well here. Due to such low rainfall, prolonged drought has resulted in the formation of the Thor desert in the region.
Some of the Important Features of the Indian Desert:
1. Geographical features:
- The desert is mainly composed of sand and rocks.
- The elevation of the Thar desert is high on the eastern side and low on the western side.
- The climate is very dry.
- The elevation of the Thar desert near the Aravalli range is 325 meters whereas, its elevation near the western part of Pakistan is 150 meters.
- In the lower part of the desert region and some areas of Jaisalmer, we find some salt lakes. In the local language, it is called Raan. Sambhar lake is the largest lake in this region. It is also used to produce Sodium Sulphate salts.
- Springs can be seen somewhere in the desert region. The land near the springs is somewhat fertile. Palm trees, Dates, and grasslands can be seen in this region.
Indian Desert, can be classified into five divisions:
A) Bagar region: It is the foothill of the western part of Aravalli. It is covered with grassland. Massive agriculture is possible through Rajasthan Canal in this region.
B) Rohi: Western part of Bagar is called Rohi. It is fertile land. It is fertile because of the transportation of alluvial soil of the rivers which originated from the Aravalli range.
C) Small Desert Region: It is the western part of Rohi. The actual desert started in this region.
D) Marusthali: The meaning of ‘Marusthali’ in Sanskrit is “Land of the Dead”. This area is covered by sand-dune and it is situated on the northwestern side of the Rajasthan state and extends over about 62,000 square km, towards the north of the River Luni.
E) Desert region: It is located to the west of the region and crosses the Indian border into Pakistan. The terrible form of the desert can be seen here.
2. Climatic features:
The climate of this region is arid and subtropical. The average temperature varies in different seasons and It is the 9th largest hot subtropical desert in World. Its range comes from near freezing to 50º C in the summer months. The weather condition of this region is very dry and the average annual rainfall ranges from 10 cm to 50 cm which generally occurs during the month of July to September due to the southwest monsoon.
3. Biodiversity features:
The climatic conditions of this region are very Harsh to survive for the vegetation, human culture, and animal life in this region are very diverse compared to other landscapes. About 22 species of lizards and 24 species of snakes are native to this region.
- Some wildlife species are vanishing very fast in other parts of India. But those are found in the desert in large numbers. Such species are blackbucks, Chinkara, Indian wild ass, etc. in the Rann of Kutch. This may be because they are well adapted to this environment.
- Some very common mammals of the desert area are subspecies of red fox (Vulpes vulpes pusilla), the caracal, and a number of reptiles. This region is also a haven for almost 140 species of migratory and resident desert birds. Such as harriers, falcons, buzzards, vultures, short-toed eagles, tawny eagles, greater spotted eagles, etc.
- The Thar Desert supports a large number of hardy, drought-resistant plant species such as Khejri, cactus, etc. There are 6.2 % plant species in the Thar Desert which is relatively higher than in the world-famous Sahara desert.
4. Agricultural features:
It is one of the most highly populated (83 people per sq km) hot desert areas in the world. Agriculture and animal husbandry are the main two occupations of the people of this region. Due to irregular rain and drought-prone regions, agriculture is not a dependable proposition in such an area. Besides this land degradation is one of the serious problems of this desert area which happens due to high animal populations, wind and water erosion, illegal mining, etc.
- Bajra is the main Kharif crop in the Indian Desert, besides this bajra, pulses such as guar, jowar, maize, sesame, and groundnuts are also produced in this region.
- In recent years, the development of irrigation features including canals and tube wells has changed the crop pattern. Now, rabi crops including mustard, wheat, and cumin seed along with cash crops are also produced in the various desert area of Rajasthan.
- At present many initiatives are taken by the government of India to grow agricultural crops in the Thar desert. All these initiatives are taken by the coordination of India’s Union the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and the Urmul Trust, with the support of the Desert Resource Centre.