Any stock or reserve that can be drawn from nature is a Natural Resource. The major natural resources are - land, forest, water, mineral and energy. India is rich in natural resources, but majority of the Indians are poor. Nature has provided with diverse climate, several rivers for irrigation and power generation, rich minerals, rich forest and diverse soil.
a. Renewable Resources: Resources that can be regenerated in a given span of time. E.g. forests, wildlife, wind, biomass, tidal, hydro energies etc.
b. Non-Renewable Resources: Resources that cannot be regenerated. E.g. Fossil fuels-coal, petroleum, minerals, etc.
In terms of area India ranks seventh in the world with a total area of 32.8 lakh sq. km. 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.
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 and become ineconomic.
India’s forest cover in 2007 is 69.09 million hectare which constitutes 21.02 per cent of the total 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.
India possesses high quality iron-ore in abundance. The total reserves of iron-ore in the country are about 14.630 million tonnes of haematiteand 10,619 million tonnes of magnetite. Hematite iron is mainly found in Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Goa and Karnataka.The major deposit of magnetite iron is available at western coast of Karnataka. Some deposits of iron ore are also found in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Coal is the largest available mineral resource. India ranks third in the world after China and USA in coal production. The main centres of coal in India are the West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra,Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Bulk of the coal production comes from Bengal-Jharkhand coalfields.
Bauxite is a main source of metal like aluminium. Major reserves are concentrated in the East Coast bauxite deposits of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
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. The important mica bearing pegmatite is found in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Rajasthan.
Oil is being explored in India at many places of Assam and Gujarat. Digboi, Badarpur, 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.
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 UNECE 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.