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Thar Desert

  • 15 Feb 2021
  • 3 min read

Why in News

The Pakistan Army is holding a month-long exercise code-named ‘Jidar-ul-Hadeed’ in the Thar Desert. The aim is to prepare for conflict in extreme desert environments.

  • A multinational naval exercise hosted by Pakistan, Aman-2021, has also begun in the Arabian Sea. 45 countries, including the USA, Russia, China and Turkey, will be participating in the exercise.

Key Points

  • Name:
    • The name, Thar is derived from thul, the general term for the region’s sand ridges.
  • Location:
    • It is located partly in Rajasthan state, northwestern India, and partly in Punjab and Sindh provinces, eastern Pakistan.
  • About the Area:
    • The Thar Desert is an arid region that covers over 2,00,000 sq km. It forms a natural boundary along the border between India and Pakistan.
    • The surface consists of aeolian (wind-deposited) sand that has accumulated over the past 1.8 million years.
    • The desert presents an undulating surface, with high and low sand dunes separated by sandy plains and low barren hills, or bhakars, which rise abruptly from the surrounding plains.
      • The dunes are in continual motion and take on varying shapes and sizes.
      • Barchan, also spelled Barkhan, crescent-shaped sand dune produced by the action of wind predominately from one direction. One of the commonest types of dunes, it occurs in sandy deserts all over the world.
  • Surrounding Areas:
    • It is bordered by the irrigated Indus River plain to the west, the Punjab Plain to the north and northeast, the Aravalli Range to the southeast, and the Rann of Kachchh to the south.
  • Climate:
    • The subtropical desert climate there results from persistent high pressure and subsidence at that latitude.
      • The prevailing southwest monsoon winds that bring rain to much of the subcontinent in summer tend to bypass the Thar to the east.
  • Saline Lakes:
    • Several playas (saline lake beds), locally known as dhands, are scattered throughout the region.
  • Flora and Fauna:
    • The region produces herbaceous plants like cactus, neem, khejri, acacia nilotica among others. All these plants can accommodate themselves to high or low temperatures and difficult climatic conditions.
    • The desert also houses the residents of the wild like the leopard, the Asiatic wild cat (Felis silvestris ornata), the chousingha (Tetracerus quadricornis), the chinkara (Gazella bennettii), the Bengal desert fox (Vulpes bengalensis), the Blackbuck (antelope) and several species of reptiles.


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