GUWAHATI: Pradyut Bordoloi, Congress MP from Nagaon and member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural G. Rules Committee - Lok Sabha strongly opposed the Narendra Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government's plan to turn the Northeast region into an 'Oil Palm Hub'.
Writing to the Prime Minister Bordoloi said that the government in the recently held Business Summit for North Eastern State on the Notional Mission on Edible Oil- Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) has made it very clear once again that it will turn the NE region into an 'Oil Palm Hub' which means the government has ignored the appeals of local communities. environmentalists and other stakeholders who have expressed deep concerns with the plan.
The Business Summit was chaired by the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
The letter further read: "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 North East region's rich biodiversity. We are given to understand by the scientific community that while oil palm cultivation may be useful in the short tom as a means of income generation. it is not at alto sustainable long-term strategy. The cases of Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia provide precedent to the devastating effects of monocultural oil palm plantations on biodiversity. depletion or water supply and soil degradation due to substantial chemical input requirements."
Further, research has widely shown that oil plant plantations store less carbon (50-90% less over 20 years) than the original forest cover. thereby significantly contributing to climate change. It is such environmental concerns that lead our neighbour. Sri Lanka to uproot existing oil palm plantations and ban palm oil imports earlier this year, he added.
"Oil palm plantations are not new to the North East region. but to proceed with the proposed increase in an oil palm plantation in our areas need to be scientifically assessed. Not only do these proposed plantations stand to destroy forests. but significantly alter social dynamics since community ownership of lands is prevalent in the North-East. As a water-intensive crop with a high gestation period, it would be unsuitable for many small-scale fanners. One recalls how similar proposals for large-scale oil palm cultivation were rejected after due diligence in the 1980s as a -recipe for ecological disaster". a reminder for us to tread with caution," MP Bordoloi continued.
Stating the above Bordoloi strongly opposed this plan that bulldozes the interests of the North East people.
He also urged PM Modi to weigh the negative impacts on the region's natural environment.
"While agricultural development is inevitable, we must think along sustainable lines and in wider consultation with all stakeholders before any irreversible damage is done. I sincerely hope that our economic pursuits will take into view ecological contexts and socio-economic dynamics. rather than being solely guided by commercial interests or corporate monopolies," he added.
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