A natural resource is anything that people can use which comes from nature. People do not make natural resources, but gather them from the earth. Examples of natural resources are air, water, wood, oil, wind energy, iron, and coal.
Classification of natural resources
Natural resources are mostly classified into renewable and non-renewable resources.
Renewable resources are generally living resources, which can restock (renew) themselves if they are not over-harvested but used sustainably. Once renewable resources are consumed at a rate that exceeds their natural rate of replacement, the standing stock will diminish and eventually run out. The rate of sustainable use of a renewable resource is determined by the replacement rate and amount of standing stock of that particular resource. Non-living renewable natural resources include soil and water.
Flow renewable resources are very much like renewable resources, only they do not need regeneration, unlike renewable resources. Flow renewable resources include renewable energy sources such as the following renewable power sources: solar, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, tides and wind.
Resources can also be classified on the basis of their origin as biotic and abiotic. Biotic resources are derived from living organisms. Abiotic resources are derived from the non-living world (e.g., land, water, and air). Mineral and power resources are also abiotic resources some of which are derived from nature.
A non-renewable resource is a natural resource that exists in a fixed amount that cannot be re-made, re-grown or regenerated as fast as it is consumed and used up.
Some non-renewable resources can be renewable but take an extremely long time to renew. Fossil fuels, for example, take millions of years to form and so are not practically considered ‘renewable’. Many environmentalists proposed to tax on consumption of non renewable resources.
India is rich in natural resources. Some of its important resources arc discussed below.
1. Land Resources:
In terms of area India ranks seventh in the world with a total area of 32, 87.263 sq. km. (32.87 crore hectare). It accounts for 2.42% of total area of the world. In absolute terms India is really a big country. However, land man ratio is not favourable because of the huge population size.
Land utilisation figures are available for about 92.9% of total geographical area, that is, for 3,287.3 lakh hectare. Forest constitutes 21.02 per cent of the total geographical area of country. Out of a total land area of 304.2 million hectares about 170.0 million hectares is under cultivation. Food grains have preponderance in gross cropped areas as compared to non food grains.
According to Agricultural Census, the area operated by large holdings (10 hectares and above) has declined and area operated under marginal holdings (less than one hectare) has increased. This indicates that land is being fragmented.
2. Forest Resources:
India’s forest cover in 2007 was 69.09 million hectare which is 21.02 per cent of the geographical
area. Of this, 8.35 million hectare is very dense forest, 31.90 million hectare is moderately dense forest and the rest 28.84 million hectare is open forest.
The per capita forest in India (0.5 hectare) is much less than that in the world (1.9 hectares). According to the National Policy on Forests (1988), one-third (33%) of the country’s area should be covered by forests in order to maintain ecological balance.
3. Mineral Resources
India possesses high quality iron-ore in abundance. The total reserves of iron-ore in the country are about 14.630 million tonnes of haematite and 10,619 million tonnes of magnetite. Haematite iron is mainly found in Chbattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Goa and Karnataka.
The major deposit of magnetite iron is available at western coast of Karnataka. Some deposits of iron ore arc also found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. During 2007-08. Its production touched the height of 2.06,939 thousand tonnes (estimated).
Coal and Lignite:
Coal is the largest available mineral resource. India ranks third in the world after China and USA in the realm of coal production. The main centres of coal in India arc the West Bengal Bihar region. Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Bulk of the coal production comes from Bengal-Jharkhand coalfields.
They contribute 60 to 65% of the total production. The total known geological reserves of all types of coal stands estimated at 264.54 billion tonnes as of January I. 2008. During 2009-10 the import and export of coal was about 67.744 MT and 2.171 MT respectively.
Bauxite is a main source of metal like aluminium. The total resources of bauxite as per United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC) in the country were placed at 3,290 million tonnes as on April 1, 2005. The areas of bauxite deposits in India are: Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, (Joa, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka. Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Major reserves are concentrated in the Fast Coast bauxite deposits of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Mica: Mica is a heat resisting mineral which is also a bad conductor of electricity. It is used in electrical equipments as an insulator. India stands first in sheet mica production and contributes 60% of mica trade in the world. As per UNFC, the total resources of Mica in the country are estimated at 39,3855 tonnes. The important mica bearing pegmatite occurs in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Rajasthan.
Oil is being explored in India at many places of Assam and Gujarat. Digboi, liadarpur, Naharkatia,
Kasimpur, Palliaria, Rudrapur, Shivsagar, Mourn (All in Assam) and Hay of Khambhat, Ankaleshwar and Kalol (All in Gujarat) are the important places of oil exploration in India. The exploration of oil reserves is still on the way in other parts of the country.
India possesses only a limited gold reserve. There are only three main gold mine regions—Kolar Goldfield, Kolar district and Hutti Goldfield in Raichur district (both in Karnataka) and Ramgiri Goldfield in Anantpur district (Andhra Pradesh).
As per UNFC, total gold metal ore reserves (primary) as on April 1, 2009 were estimated at 390.29 million tonnes, with a metal content of 490.81 tonnes. Most of the gold (about 38.71 tonnes) is reserved in Kolar and Hutti mines. In 2003-04, 3,363 kg of gold was produced which increased to 3,400 kg (estimated) during 2007-08.
As per UN EC the total reserves of diamond is estimated at around 4582 thousand carats which are mostly available in panna (Madhya Pradesh). Rammallakota of Kurnur district of Andhra Pradesh and also in the Basin of Krishna River.
The new kimberlile fields have been discovered in Raipur and Pastar districts of Chhattisgarh, Nuapada and Bargarh districts of Odisha, Narayanpet – Maddur Krishna areas of Andhra Pradesh and Raichur-Gulbarga districts of Karnataka.
Limestone is available almost in all the slates of the country and every state contributes in its production. Andhra Pradesh is the leading state followed by Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu. As per UNFC, the total reserves of limestone of all categories and grades were placed at 1, 75,345 million tonnes as of April 1, 2(X) 5.
Manganese is used in the production of steel and other iron compounds. The total resources of manganese ore in the country are placed at 379 million tonnes. Its maximum deposit is found in Karnataka. Besides, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh. Maharashtra and Goa also possess relatively larger deposits of manganese. Some deposits are also found in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kajaslhan, Gujarat and West Bengal:
As per United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC), the total resources of copper ore are placed at 1.39 billion tonnes with a metal content of 11,418 thousand tonnes. Important copper producing areas are Singhbum (Bihar), Balaghat (Madhya Pradesh), Jhunjhunu and Alwar (Rajasthan). Khammam (Andhra Pradesh), Chitradurga and Hasan districts of Karnataka and Sikkim.
It is a colourless or white mineral which consists barium sulphate. Barium metal is obtained from barytes. As per UNFC, India has got 74 million tonnes deposits of barytes as on April 1, 2005 which arc mostly available in Mangampet of Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh.
It is a mineral of brown black shade with which chromium and its other compounds are prepared. As per IJNFC, the total resources of chromite as on 1st April, 2005 were 213 million tonnes.
Chromite deposits of economic significance occur in Andhra Pradesh. Bihar, Karnataka. Maharashtra, Manipur, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. The largest share (about 96%) of the total geographical resource is accounted by Cuttack district in Odisha.
It is mostly a colourless mineral (sometimes white or pink) which is the main source of calcium magnesium carbonate. Magnesium and its compounds arc obtained from dolomite.
As per UNFC, the reserves of all types of dolomite are estimated at 7.533 million tonnes which are mostly found in Odisha. Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
It is a shining mineral which contains calcium fluoride. Fluorine and its compounds are obtained from fluorspar. This mineral is mainly available in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. As per UNFC, the total resources of fluorite in the country as on April 1, 2005 were estimated at 20.16 million tonnes.
Gypsum is a colourless or white mineral which contains calcium sulphate. It is used in the production of cement and plaster of Paris. The total resources of gypsum in India as per UNFC as on April 1, 2005 were estimated at 1.237 million tonnes. Most of its deposits arc found in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.
It is a crystalline form of carbon which is used in making pencils and electrodes. Graphite is also used as a lubricant and moderator in atomic reactors. As per UNFC, the total resources of graphite in India as on April 1, 2005 were estimated at about 168.77 million tonnes. It contains carbon between 10 to 40%. Odisha is the main graphite producing state.
It is a black coloured mineral having some magnetic property. It contains iron titanium oxide with which titanium and titanium dioxide are obtained. As per Department of Atomic Energy, the total deposits of ilmenite in the country are estimated to be 461.37 million tonnes which arc mostly found in the sands of eastern and western coast. Kerala, Odisha and Tamil Nadu are the states having abundant reserves of ilmenite.
It is a white mineral used in making porcelain and bone china. It is also used in making medicine. The total deposits of kaolin in India are estimated to be about 2,595.66 million tonnes. Jharkhand, Gujarat. Rajasthan, West Bengal, Kerala, Haryana, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are kaolin producing slates.
Lead and Zinc:
The main deposits of lead and zinc are found mostly in Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Gujarat, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Sikkim, but 95% of known reserves are centralised in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
As per UNFC, the total resources of lead and zinc in India as on April 1, 2005 were estimated at 522.58 million tonnes with 7,207 thousand tonnes of lead metal and 24,260 thousand tonnes of zinc metal.
Nickel is mostly available in Cuttack, Kyonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts of Odisha. Sukinda region of Cuttack district contains maximum deposits of nickel. As per UNFC, the total resources of nickel ore have been estimated at 189 million tonnes. About 92% resources are in Odisha and remaining 8% are distributed in Jharkhand, Nagaland and Karnataka.
Phosphate minerals are of different types—phosphorite deposits are available in Chhattarpur, Sagar and Jhabua districts of Madhya Pradesh, Udaipur, Jaisalmer and Banswada districts of Rajasthan, Dehradun and Tehri districts of Uttarakhand and Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu possess ample reserves of apatite. As per UNFC as on April 1, 2005, the total resources of rock phosphate were placed at 305 million tonnes, and of apatite at 26.86 million tonnes.
As per UNFC, the total resources of tungsten ore in the country have been estimated at 87.39 million tonnes. The main deposits are at Degana. Rajasthan it is also found in Haryana, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.
India possesses abundant reserves of magnesite. Magnesite is an important refractory metal which is used in making fire bricks. It contains magnesium carbonate. Magnesium is also obtained from its processing. The total known deposits of magnesite in India as per UNEC as on April 1, 2005, were about 338 million tonnes.
It is used in making bricks. As per UNFC, as on April 1, 200.”, the total reserves of fire clay in India were about 705 million tonnes. These reserves arc mostly available in Gondawana coal regions and basins. Jharkhand, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh are the states where fire clay is abundantly available.