Kuakata fishermen fell reserve forest trees
A section of local fishermen cut down over 100 trees at Gongamoti reserve forest in Kuakata to make space for drying fish.
Locals said dried fish wholesaler Anwar Hossain managed the fishermen to do this illegal act to set up a shutki palli, an area for drying fish, in the reserve forest area, around 5-km away from Kuakata zero point.
With the beginning of dry season, fishermen engage themselves in drying fish in the area. They do the job from November to March as they net a huge quantity of saltwater fishes during the period.
Every year, over 100 fishermen dry fishes in Khajura area on the sea beach, locally called as shutki palli. But this year, Anwar Hossain set up another shuti palli in the reserve forest area, by felling over 100 trees. At least 25 makeshift houses have also been made in the area.
Abdul Hanif Hawlader of Gongamati area said the fishermen build houses and wooden platforms to keep fishes to dry, using the felled trees. They also use woods as fuel, he added.
Locals said Anwar advanced the fishermen some money to dry fish and sell them to him. He has a store on the Kuskata sea beach.
Contacted, wholesaler Anwar said he has built a house in the area for his relatives. “I don't know how other people have built their houses in the area,” he said, adding that he didn't invest money to set up shutki palli in the reserve forest area.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Mihir Kanti told this correspondent that he was not aware of the matter. “We will investigate the matter and take necessary steps against the persons involved in cutting down the trees.