The government has initiated a move to cut down around 3,200 trees from the reserve forests in Gazipur and Cox's Bazar to implement two development projects, including building a mini stadium.
The environment and forests ministry has recently sent two proposals to the Cabinet Division in this regard. The proposals may be placed before Monday's cabinet meeting for approval, ministry officials said.
As per a previous decision of the cabinet, felling of trees in reserve and natural forests remained stopped since January 2016 to save bio-diversity. The ban will be in force till December 2022.
Once the cabinet gives nod to the proposals, 1,546 trees in 2.34 acre forest in Chandpur Union of Gazipur's Kapasia upazila will be cut for building a mini stadium there.
Besides, 1,701 trees in 191.25 acre forest in Maheshkhali Upazila of Cox's Bazar will be felled for a project of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC).
The project titled “Installation of Single Point Mooring (SPM) with double pipeline” is aimed at supplying imported crude oil and diesel directly to Eastern Refinery from mother vessels in deep sea.
Officials said the youth and sports ministry requested the environment and forests ministry's approval to use 2.34 acres reserve forest for building the mini stadium.
The youth and sports ministry received a no objection certificate (NOC) from the environment ministry on the condition that the land cannot be used for purposes other than building the stadium.
Among 1,546 trees, 1,400 are Akashmoni trees and the others include mango, jackfruit, plum and bamboo.
COX'S BAZAR PROJECT
The power, energy and mineral resources ministry requested the environment and forests ministry to issue an NOC to lease 191.25 acres forest land in Maheshkhali for implementing the project there.
As per conditions given by the environment and forests ministry, the BPC has to pay a yearly revenue of Tk 2,400 for each acre and Tk 1.37 crore as compensation. Besides, the BPC has to plant trees five times more than those to be felled by it and ensure maintenance of the trees for 10 years.
A total of 1,701 trees, including garjan, black berry, karai, khalsi, telsus, shimul, and 1,250 cane bushes will be cut down.
Engr Abdus Sobhan, general secretary of Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba), said chopping down trees of reserve forests is in no way acceptable, be it for implementation of development projects or not.
“Isn't there any other places? Why the forest land has to be used? It is not possible to grow a forest in a day,” Sobhan, also a former additional director general of the environment department, told this newspaper yesterday.
Holding lack of forest area responsible for the rising number of deaths from lightning and thunderstorm, he said, “We are not growing but destroying forests. It will be a catastrophe for us.”
He urged the government not to implement projects by cutting trees and demanded it evict all the illegal structures from Gazipur reserve forest areas gradually.