14 environmental organisations stage sit-in
Following the felling of over 25 trees in Khulna city on Wednesday, 14 environmental organisations staged a sit-in yesterday, protesting the incomprehensible action.
The crowd gathered at the city's Notun Rasta Mor, the spot from where it all began, at 11:30am. The protest was presided over by Kudrat-E Khuda, president of Paribesh Suraksha Mancho.
While various efforts are underway worldwide to protect trees, KCC decided to chop down numerous trees on the five-kilometre Sonadanga Mujgunni road, mentioned the speakers.
Stressing the importance of considering environmental harms while planning development projects, Mahfuzur Rahman Mukul, coordinator of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, Khulna, said, "Ironically, these trees are being felled in the name of beautification and development. We are not objecting to development. However, the authorities need to ensure that no trees will bear the burden of this."
"We don't want to see a single tree being felled from now on. We would urge the authorities concerned to be very considerate before cutting any tree in the city corporation area. Instead, they should plant more trees," he added.
Nazmul Azam David, director of Paribartan, said, "KCC is felling local trees like banyan and replacing them with Jhau plants. However, can birds build nests on Jhau trees and will they provide shade to the pedestrians and commuters? This madness needs to stop immediately."
Shariful Islam Salim, general secretary of Humanity Watch; Mahbub Alam Badsha, executive director of Chaya Vriksha; Abdulla Al Mamun, regional coordinator of Transparency International Bangladesh; Marina Juthi, director of IRV; and Asif Iqbal, secretary general of Khulna Development Forum,also spoke at the event.
Following Wednesday's incident, The Daily Star published a report titled "Mujgunni highway: Once draped in greenery, now deserted" on Thursday, where the workers said they were instructed by Sheikh Shamsuddin Ahmed Prince, councillor of ward-6 of the city, to fell trees on a 400-metre section of the road stretching from Notun Rasta Mor to Culvert area.
Contacted by this correspondent on Wednesday, Prince declined to comment on the matter, while KCC mayor had acknowledged the incident and said the trees were cut as they were causing damage to the road dividers.
Contacted yesterday, the mayor denied the allegations saying, "I am currently in Dhaka for a training and know nothing about the felling of trees on the Mujgunni highway. I will look into the matter after I return home."
"I am also currently in Dhaka with the mayor and will plant 400 new trees on the road once I return home," Ward Councillor Prince told this newspaper yesterday.