More oil palm planting in NE will destroy the region: MPs tell PM
Centre urged to focus on peninsula's current cropland for oil palm production
The central government has been urged to reconsider plans to increase oil palm planting in the northeastern region by a group of Members of Parliament (MP) citing its adverse effect on the environment of this region.
The MPs, led by PradyutBordoloi of the Congress party, stressed the serious environmental and socio-economic risks they pose and the potential negative effects associated with such an extension.
They expressed alarm over the potential for serious consequences of deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and water scarcity in the Northeast due to the anticipated oil palm growth.
Congress MPs Vincent Pala from Meghalaya, Abdul Khaleque, GauravGogoi from Assam, National People Party’s from Meghalaya Agatha Sangma and Naga People’s Front’sLorho S Pfoze -- all joined Bordoloi in the appeal.
Collectively, the MPs sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to thoroughly assess the Northeast oil palm expansion plan. Their statement also emphasised the region's unsuitability for oil palm development due to its climate.
Bordoloi said, “The government must think along sustainable lines and in wider consultation with all stakeholders before any irreversible damage is done.”
The MPs also argued that the government should focus its efforts on using the peninsula's current cropland for oil palm production in order to prevent the logging of Northeastern forests.
The Centre has promoted oil palm farming as a way for India to lessen its dependency on foreign edible oils. Environmentalists, however, raised a warning about the possibly of disastrous environmental effects of such expansion.
According to a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), oil palm farming will cause the loss of 2.5 million hectares of Indian forests by 2030. The study also showed that oil palm plantations don't store as much carbon as forests do, which raises concerns about climate change.
The MPs' request serves as a welcome reminder of the critical requirement to carefully consider the environmental and social repercussions before beginning an oil palm expansion in the Northeast.
Beyond social and environmental issues, the MPs expressed doubts about the Northeast's ability to economically support oil palm cultivation. They emphasised how the area's significant rainfall and cold temperatures make it unsuitable for such agriculture.
"The government must determine whether oil palm development in the Northeast is economically viable. If it isn't, the government shouldn't move forward with the project,” Bordoloi said, while echoing the sentiments of the entire group.
The parliamentarians highlight the need for a thorough analysis and well-informed decision-making process that considers the numerous repercussions of the region's oil palm expansion.