Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Saturday said the Central government will be investing around Rs 6,000 crore on oil palm cultivation in the Northeast and expected Arunachal Pradesh to benefit the most out of it.

Allaying ‘fears’ of its negative impact on the environment, the chief minister reiterated that no forest land will be destroyed or a tree cut.

“Only wastelands, which are abundant along the foothills, will be utilized for oil palm cultivation. We will have to be patient and wait for a few years to reap its benefits, which will be massive,” Khandu said.

The chief minister was addressing the BJP karyakartas after laying the foundation of the Namsai Block BJP office here.

The Union Cabinet had in August approved Rs 11,040 crore for the National Mission on Edible Oils-Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) to boost palm oil production in the country with special focus on the Northeast and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The investment aims to boost domestic oilseed production to make the nation self-reliant in terms of cooking oil. India is currently dependent on imports from countries in South East Asia to meet its domestic demands.

Responses from the northeastern states to the announcement have, however, been mixed with Meghalaya Lok Sabha MP Agatha Sangma raising concerns and Arunachal CM Khandu stating his support for the move.

Khandu had earlier this month said that Arunachal Pradesh has at least 1.33 lakh hectares feasible for commercial cultivation of oil palm out of which only about 5,000 hectares have been used.

He had, however, assured that the land surveyed by the Central team in 2019 for the cultivation falls under unused wasteland and not under the forest land category.

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