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Agatha Sangma, an MP from Meghalaya has flagged concerns through a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding his ambitious expansion of oil palm plantations in the "biodiversity hotspot and ecologically fragile" Northeast (NE) region.


Agatha Sangma, an MP from Meghalaya has flagged concerns through a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding his ambitious expansion of oil palm plantations in the "biodiversity hotspot and ecologically fragile" Northeast (NE) region."Palm tree is not an endemic species of plant of the NE region and large-scale adoption of a foreign species of plant, which is water intensive, harvest will definitely create irreparable ecological imbalance and distort the ground water table," the Tura MP said in a letter to Prime Minister Modi on Saturday. The Union Cabinet had last week approved the National Mission on Edible Oils - Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) as a new centrally sponsored scheme with a financial outlay of Rs 11,040 crore. The scheme proposes to cover an additional area of 6.5 lakh hectare (ha) for oil palm till the year 2025-26, thereby reaching the target of 10 lakh ha ultimately. The NE region and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands were chosen in the renewed scheme for expansion in oil palm plantations. Environmentalists have already termed the government's announcement as not just an ecological disaster for the fragile biodiversity in those areas but also a social disorder. While oil palm plantations are not new for NE India, yet the environmentalists are concerned as there has been no assessment on the environmental impact due to the proposal for increased plantation area.

green sago palm plant "The concern is generated when one peeks into the finer details of the programme, the plantation areas so selected are the NE region and the Andaman Islands, both of which are biodiversity hotspots and ecologically fragile. Photo by gryffyn m on Unsplash

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Photo by VOA on Unsplash

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