(EDITORIAL) Col. F.L. Brayne’s fear that India might become a second Sahara or another Gobi desert is not to be contemptuously dismissed when the American ‘Dust Bowl’ is ample warning that deserts are not all prehistoric. Deserts can be man-made and the carelessness of man is drying up India today when large-scale disafforestation is pursued regardless of the connection between rainfall and vegetation. While it is more difficult for clouds to precipitate rain on to a hot, dry desert than on to a cool forest, the increasing poorness of the soil in India is due to the long periods of drought which makes the soil so dry and powdery that in the absence of a permanent mat of vegetation the sharp, sudden rainstorms wash away the precious top soil from all unlevelled land.
Soil erosion has become a formidable threat, and Col. Brayne who has been studying the problem with the help of the experts of the Punjab Forest Department, testifies to the appalling extent to which soil and vegetation are disappearing, in North as well as South India. With hills, grazing grounds and fields eroding, rainfall decreasing and the subsoil water receding, preventive measures cannot be delayed if the wind and the rain are not to play havoc in India.
Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2018