Out of the total land area, as many as 175 million hectares suffer from degradation. Land degradation is caused largely by soil erosion, but also by water logging and excessive salinity.
The most serious threat to the soil is posed by deforestation. Heavy rainfall during monsoon damages the soils. Steep slopes encourage rapid runoff leading to soil erosion especially on the southern slopes of the Himalayas and the western slopes of the Western Ghats.
Major portions of the Himalayas are prone to landslides and erosion. Wind erosion is prevalent in Rajasthan, gully erosion in Chambal Valley, Chotanagpur, Gujarat, Submontane Punjab Himalaya.
Water logging and salinisation which constitute the second major threat to soil have already consumed 13 million hectares and threaten many more. The lands affected are mostly situated in canal irrigated areas. They have suffered because of the absence of adequate drainage.
Land is also degraded due to mining operations in many parts of the country. The total land area affected is about 80 thousand hectares by mining. Urban encroachment on good quality agricultural land is another problem by which the amount of land used for agriculture is steadily declining.
In other words, there is a tough competition between agriculture, urban and industrial development. There are social conflicts that are arising out of the rights to occupy and transfer of land. The tenant cultivators face major disincentives such as the fear of eviction, the insecurity of tenure, high rents and inadequate surplus to invest. Land ceiling laws have not been implemented with adequate strictness.