RHD to cut down over 600 trees for road expansion in Ctg
More than one hundred trees have already been cut down and several hundred more are in the process to embrace the same fate. It is the scenario of a portion of Chattogram-Cox's Bazar highway.
The Roads and Highway Department have been cutting the trees to expand the road from Shikalbaha Y Junction to Patiya Bypass stretching around 20 kilometres.
It was seen that the workers were busy on Monday (April 18, 2022) cutting trees in Shikalbaha, Manasa Intersection and Badamtol Intersection in Patiya upazila. Mainly Rain Trees were dominating among the other trees.
However, locals are not happy with these activities. They said cutting down trees started around one month ago and over 100 trees have already fallen in a five-kilometre area between Shikalbaha and Badamtol.
Abdur Rahim, a local in the Mansa area, said many of the trees cut down were 50 years to 60 years old. "I feel very sad when I see the workers cutting down the trees every day," he said.
"These trees give us shade and wind and make the environment of the area cool and calm," he added.
"Hundreds of birds have made their nests in those trees for years and as the trees are being cut down, the birds are losing their shelters," he also said.
Mizanur Rahman, a local in the Badamtol area, said the local people have a close connection with these trees—the connection is of heart. "When I see the trees being cut down, I feel sorry as those have been giving us shelter from both sunshine and rain for years like a close friend."
According to sources, a Tk 65-crore project started in March and is scheduled to be completed in March next year. The two-lane road would be expanded from the present 18 feet width to 38 feet, said sources, adding, to start the work of the project, the RHD applied to the Department of Forest for cutting down a total of 1,084 trees in the project area.
When contacted, Shafiqul Islam, divisional forest officer of Chattogram (south zone), said the RHD did not seek any permission from the Department of Forest for cutting down the trees initially.
According to Forest Materials Transport (Control) Rules 2011, taking permission from the DoF is a must for cutting trees from anywhere in the country, said Shafiqul, adding, "When we made this matter to their notice, they sought permission to cut down a total of 1,084 trees in the area last month."
"As it is a development project related to the public interest, we have given them the permission to cut down the trees on the condition that they would plant trees on both sides of the road once the works of the project are completed," he said.
Suman Singha, executive engineer of RHD (Dohazari subdivision) in Chattogram, said it was necessary to cut down trees for the expansion of the road.
"Initially we thought to cut down 1,084 trees but now we have decided to cut down 622 trees," the official added.
"We will plant trees three times more than the number of fallen trees on both sides of the road once the works of the project are completed," he said in answer to the question of adverse impact on the environment due to cutting down of a huge number of trees.
Environmentalist Prof Dr Idris Ali said cutting down a huge number of trees altogether would put a very adverse impact on nature, especially, in balancing the ratio of O2 and CO2 in the area.
Steps should have been taken to make a balance between the development project and conserving the environment at the same time as per the guideline of experts, he said.