Shillong: While concerns have been raised about the recent cabinet approval for implementation of National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma has said if it comes at a cost of degrading the environment to a very large extent then they will have to look at those aspects.

Stressing that there requires a balance to look at all the aspects, Sangma said that as a whole they are always interested to see how they can create livelihood and opportunities for the people but balancing the environment is also important.

The CM said even though the Govt of India has come up with multiple schemes and several NE states have shown interest in moving forward with it, each state has different pros and cons.

“For us as a government, we would like to see that there be various business opportunities for creating livelihood and business opportunities for our entrepreneurs and farmers. Obviously that is something we would like to take advantage of. But if it comes with a high cost, if it comes at a cost of degrading the environment to a very large extent, which becomes irreversible, and if it comes at the cost of damaging our land and our people, then we have to consider those aspects as well,” Sangma said.

The CM reiterated that they would “want what is best for the people of the state” and that they would like to do what is in the best interest of the people and create opportunities for them. But, he emphasised, they have to make sure that the environment and the people are protected.

‘Ways to strike a balance’

Asked about MP Agatha Sangma’s objection to the idea, he said she has raised a concern and has cited various examples of what has happened in different countries. He clarified that if a model like that is implemented in our state, it will be very damaging for us.

“But is there a way to balance. Could there be wastelands that we could use where other plantations cannot happen? Could there be areas where other plantations already exist and maybe farmers would like to do it? All these areas need to be examined before we go forward,” said Sangma.

According to the Mission on Oil Palm, this scheme gives special focus on the Northeast region and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A financial outlay is of Rs 11,040 crore out of which Rs 8,844 crore is the share of Government of India. It focuses on increasing area and productivity of oilseeds and Oil Palm.

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