Assam MP moves PM against plan to boost oil palm plantations in NE

GUWAHATI, Oct 8: Lok Sabha MP Pradyut Bordoloi, while opposing the proposed plan of the Centre to enhance oil palm plantations in the Northeast, has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to weigh the adverse impact of such a move on the region’s natural environment before proceeding with the plan.

In a letter to the Prime Minister on Friday, Bordoloi, while referring to the Union agriculture minister’s assertion of turning the region into an oil palm hub, during a recent business summit here, stated that the proposed plan “ignores the appeals of local communities, environmentalists and other stakeholders who have expressed deep concerns with the plan.”

“Efforts to reduce the country’s dependence on edible oil imports are appreciated. However, these efforts must not be pursued at the cost of the environment, and specifically if it erodes the Northeast region’s rich biodiversity,” the MP wrote.

He stated that while oil palm cultivation might be useful in the short term as a means of income generation, it is not at all a sustainable long-term strategy.

“Further, research has shown that oil plant plantations store less carbon (50 to 90 percent less over 20 years) than the original forest cover, thereby significantly contributing to climate change,” he stated.

“While agriculture development is inevitable, we must think along sustainable lines and in wider consultation with all stakeholders before any irreversible damage is done,” the MP stated.

He further stated that oil palm plantations were not new to the Northeast but a scientific assessment was needed before proceeding with the plan to increase oil palm plantations in our areas.

“Not only do these proposed plantations stand to destroy forests but significantly alter social dynamics since community ownership of land is prevalent in the Northeast. As a water-intensive crop with a high gestation period, it would be unsuitable for many small-scale farmers,” Bordoloi stated.

“I sincerely hope that our economic pursuits will take into view ecological contexts and socio-economic dynamics rather than being solely guided by the commercial interests of corporate monopolies,” he stated.

 

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