Who felled 56 trees?
At least 56 trees were felled along the Dhaka-Barishal highway recently. The fallen giants, mostly mahogany trees, are victims of a seemingly elaborate hoax. Apparently, a forged tender authorised their demise, shrouding the incident in mystery.
No culprit has yet been identified, leaving the authorities concerned bewildered.
The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) seized the logs that were chopped down in Bamrail-Jayshree union under Ujirpur upazila, confirmed Masud Ahmed Sumon, the executive engineer of RHD in Barishal.
"On Wednesday afternoon, 56 logs were seized and brought to the sub-divisional zone office. When we sent the tender documents to the Arboriculture Department in Dhaka, they said that it was fake," he said.
According to the tender, dated December 31, 2023 and signed by Md Amanat Ali, sub-divisional arboriculture officer of RHD in Dhaka, one Elahi Agro Limited in Gournadi upazila of Barishal was issued the work order to fell trees on the highways.
Masud Ahmed said usually the executive engineer calls for such a tender, but the document said it was called by the sub-divisional engineer. "So, I was confused and informed the arboriculture department, and they claimed that it was fake," he said.
Mir Mukut, executive engineer, Arboriculture Department of RHD in Dhaka, confirmed the matter. "We will file a case in this connection," he said.
"It will be investigated if anyone from the office was involved in it," he added.
Meanwhile, Elahi Agro Ltd was found to be a rice mill company in Gournadi. "My company did not participate in any tender for tree felling on the highway," said Farhad Munshi, its owner.
Ujirpur Police Station OC Md Zafar Ahmed said,"Although it is shown that a letter has been sent to us before felling trees, we do not know anything about the matter."
Amanat Ali could not be reached for comments.