108 trees -- the price of ‘beautification’
A total of 108 trees of a diverse range of species, including akashmani, shilkoroi, mahogany, and olive, are to be felled on the premises of Shah AMS Kibria Municipal Auditorium in Habiganj town in the name of a beautification project.
Adjacent to Habiganj Government High School ground, the lush green area provides shelter to different native species of birds, including cormorant, common myna, cuckoo, and sparrow, while also being a recreational space for local children and youths.
Habiganj municipality authorities are no longer interested in keeping the pristine site; rather, they deem it necessary to remove the trees to beautify the auditorium premises.
It even finalised the tender for felling the trees.
The municipality's decision to cut down these trees has left locals puzzled and concerned.
Protesting the move, local environmentalists and residents submitted a memorandum to the municipality mayor on Wednesday, saying cutting down the trees will be detrimental to the environment.
According to the municipal office, 108 trees have been selected to be felled, including 70 in front of the district Shilpakala Academy and 38 in front of Biam Laboratory School. Most of the trees are between 20 and 25 years old.
The municipality called the tender for felling the trees on December 28 last year and finalised it at Tk 3.51 lakh. The contractor will start felling the trees after being issued the work order.
The trees contribute significantly to the aesthetic appeal of the area, where Brindaban Government College, Judicial Court, and The Roses School are also located, said Tofazzal Sohel, general secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon in Habiganj.
Felling these trees will threaten the area's biodiversity and ecological balance and disrupt its aesthetic appeal, Sohel said.
"The Department of Environment approved the decision to cut down the trees. The highest bidder will be permitted to cut the trees down within the next two days," said Dilip Kumar Dutta, assistant engineer of Habiganj Municipality.
Ataur Rahman Salim, mayor of Habiganj Municipality, said, "The trees have overgrown to turn the auditorium premises into a jungle. So those will be felled to create open space and enhance the beauty of the location. Also, drains will be constructed in front of the Shilpakala Academy and Biam Laboratory School, so space is necessary."
"Hopefully the environment won't lose its beauty," he added.