RHD cutting down 622 trees for road expansion
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 situation 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.
During a recent visit, it was seen that the workers were busy 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. Over 100 trees have already been cut down in a five-kilometre area between Shikalbaha and Badamtol.
Abdur Rahim, a local in the Manasa area, said many of the trees cut down were 50 to 60 years old.
"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 also losing their shelters," he said.
Mizanur Rahman of Badamtol area echoed him.
According to sources, a Tk 65-crore project started in March this year 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. To start the work of the project, RHD applied to the forest department for cutting down a total of 1,084 trees in the project area.
Contacted, Shafiqul Islam, divisional forest officer of Chattogram (south zone), said RHD did not seek any permission from them for cutting down the trees initially.
According to Forest Materials Transport (Control) Rules 2011, taking permission from the forest department is a must for cutting trees, said Shafiqul. "When we informed them, 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 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, answering to a question on the adverse impact on the environment due to the cutting down of trees.
Asked, environmentalist Prof Dr Idris Ali said cutting down this many trees altogether would have an adverse impact on nature, especially in balancing the ratio of O2 and CO2 in the area.
Steps should have been taken to balance the development project and conserving the environment at the same time as per the guideline of experts, he said.