More than half of the land in Punjab, Pakistan is being used for cultivation. However, human activities like waste disposal, sewage, and industrial discharges have caused soil degradation. The Punjab State of Environment Report 2022 states that land degradation is also caused by salinity, water logging, and overgrazing, making the land unsuitable for farming. Approximately 6.3 million hectares of land in Pakistan are affected by salt, with a significant portion in the Canal Command Area. Secondary salinization in Punjab is mainly due to seepage of water through unlined canals, leading to waterlogged conditions and increased salinity. Faulty irrigation practices and poor soil drainage also contribute to secondary salinity. The economic impact of land degradation is significant, with an annual loss of over 2326 million USD in key cropping regions. Overgrazing causes desertification in rangelands managed by the Forest Department, Government of Punjab. Untreated wastewater and sewage disposal contribute to heavy metal contamination in soil, posing health risks to consumers. Although the fertility status of all soil types is rated as ‘good’, efforts such as continuous soil quality monitoring, lining canals, and research on salt-tolerant varieties are needed. There are 392 industrial wastewater treatment plants in Punjab, but their performance efficiency is low, negatively impacting aquatic ecosystems and trade opportunities. Effective environmental management is crucial for industrial units to meet international trade standards.
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