Fifty trees have been cut down to implement the third phase of Swadhinata Stambha and 50 more may have to be felled for the project, Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said today.
Addressing a press conference at the ministry, he said they will form a committee -- incorporating relevant experts like architects, botanists, environmentalists -- who will visit the area and will take further decision on cutting 50 more trees.
"We will change our plan if necessary, as per the suggestion of experts and will try to save as many trees as possible. We will plant 1,000 trees in the (Suhrawardy) Udyan to compensate for it," he said.
He said, considering the concern of all, they will discuss with all stakeholders, environmentalists and urban planners and will find a solution on how the project can continue without hampering the environment.
"However, we will protect all the historical sites related to the Liberation War and freedom of struggle at the Udyan for the interest of protecting history," the minister said.
Responding to a question on why they did not start planting trees before cutting any tree, he said they had a plan to plant trees during this upcoming rainy season and they will start tree plantation within the next month.
Responding to another question on the primary design where there was no provision of cutting trees, the minister said it will be very unfortunate if the trees are cut down to construct walkways.
It is against the policy of the government and if it was possible to protect trees by changing the design of the walkways then they should have done it, he said.
"We will look into the matter. If the trees are cut down for the walkways despite having the option to save them, we will take action against those involved," he said.
"We will sit with the stakeholders and experts to discuss the matter and the felling of any tree will remain suspended until their suggestion is received," he said.
The minister said they did not discuss the issue earlier as they did not think that problems would arise during the implementation of the project.
The minister said they see the opinions of people with respect, for which they are going to take suggestions of experts and will change design if necessary.
The minister said they want to bring 2,000 children from Dhaka and adjoining areas every day -- at government cost -- to the Udyan to inform them of the history of the Liberation War of the country.
He said the Tk 265.44 crore project started on January 2018 and will be continued till June 2022. They are constructing seven food kiosks, monument of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the place of the historic March 7 speech, monument at the place of surrender of Pakistani occupational force on December 16, 1971, walkway, mosque and underground water reservoir, underground car parking with a capacity of 500 cars and water fountain.