'Indian palm oil firms make Indonesian eco-disaster'
Mumbai: Greenpeace India Tuesday claimed that major Indian corporates houses could be linked to the destruction of the Indonesian rainforests through their imports of palm oil from the country.
Releasing a report "Frying The Forest", Greenpeace campaigner Nandikesh Sivalingam said that apart from contributing to global climate change, massive palm oil cultivation is also harming habitat of endangered species like the Sumatran Tiger and the Orangutan.
Indian edible oil majors like ITC, Britannia, Godrej and Ruchi Soya import palm oil from Indonesia for marketing in India.
"7.2 million tonnes of palm oil were imported this year resulting in a steep import bill, and spurring the destruction of Indonesian rainforests for plantations," Sivalingam said.
Sivalingam quoted the National Climate Change Council of Indonesia to describe the palm oil industry as among the leading drivers of deforestation and peatland loss in that country.
Indonesia has some of the largest remaining tracts of rainforests on the planet and is currently ranked 3rd - overtaking US and China - in terms of global greenhouse gas emissions, largely due to loss of forests and peatland.
Greenpeace India claims that several Indian firms source palm oil from Duta Palma of Indonesia, which is allegedly destroying forests and peatland in the southeast Asian nation.
Noted journalist G. Chandrashekhar said at the report release that India is the largest market for palm oil, consuming around 15 percent of global production, most of which comes from Indonesia.
"This means Indian firms are well placed to use their market power to pressure Indonesian palm oil suppliers to ensure no rainforests and peatlands are being cleared for their plantations," Chandrashekar said.
Sivalingam said that despite requests by Greenpeace India no Indian company had committed to ensure that their palm oil and other supply chain components are not linked to deforestation.
Global giants like Unilever and Nestle have implemented sourcing policies to discourage deforestation.
Greenpeace India urged Indian corporates to introduce a time-bound, zero-deforestation policy, and to stop sourcing from suppliers who refuse to break links with companies indulging in environmental destruction.