Guwahati, August 9/–/ The Aam Aadmi Party has expressed concern over the introduction of palm oil cultivation in Assam, claiming that such plantation has been initiated at the patronage of big companies and supported by the BJP-led government.
The Assam government has, in a bid to make the state self-reliant on production of edible oils, set a target of bringing 3.75 lakh hectares of land under palm oil cultivation.
In this regard, Patanjali Food Limited (PFL), a food-based company, has set a target of 60,300 hectares of plantation by 2026.
In a statement issued here on Wednesday, AAP Assam president Bhaben Choudhury expressed concern over the impact that palm cultivation could have on the environment.
“At a time when palm oil cultivation has been banned in countries like Indonesia and in Europe; under what compulsion has the central government taken this initiative to introduce such cultivation in the North-eastern region of India along with Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” he asked.
Quoting recent studies published on the subject, he said that a palm oil tree needs 300 litres of water per day. “This tree siphons off ground water and makes the surrounding soil infertile for other forms of cultivation. This will eventually lead to a severe drought-like condition in future, depleting the water table further,” Choudhury said.
“The BJP still has a colonial attitude towards the Northeastern region. Why has it chosen palm, which is detrimental to the environment, to be cultivated in this region? Why is it that palm cultivation has not been initiated in other states of India and what kind of research has the BJP government done on the subject before initiating such a plantation in the Northeast, he asked.
“AAP Assam demands any such research/report undertaken by the government to be made public,” he added.
It may be mentioned that the central government has taken an ambitious plan to encourage palm oil cultivation in 17 districts of Assam.
Under this programme, Patanjali Food Limited (PFL) started cultivation in Sadiya on Tuesday.