Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

When Odisha is grappling with severe heat wave conditions, hundreds of old trees in Taratua reserve forest under Khordha range have been felled triggering concerns among the local people. 

Moreover, the mysterious silence of the forest department officials over the incident has baffled the local people and environment lovers in the area and they have expressed massive resentment.

As per reports, some miscreants cut down hundreds of old and huge trees in Taratua reserve forest on Monday. They reportedly did not heed the protest by the local people and were of the opinion that the trees are cut down as per the order of the Forest Department. 

Even, the forest guard appointed in the area was not present during the felling. Later he said that the trees were cut down as new saplings will be planted in the area.

“Most of the trees were burnt in fire. Those plants have been cut down as a new plantation project will be undertaken in the area,” said forest guard, Ashok Jena.
However, local people slammed the Forest Department for its alleged silence and inaction.

“It’s quite unfortunate that hundreds of old and huge trees were cut down to make way for a new plantation project. The new project could have been undertaken somewhere else. There is huge corruption behind this and lakhs of rupees have been embezzled. An investigation into the incident should be launched and stern action should be taken against the erring persons,” said Jitendra Kumar Sahu, Gurujanga Village Committee Secretary.

Meanwhile, the Forest Department reportedly tried to sweep the incident under the carpet after videos of the felling of trees went viral on social media platforms. The department soon used two bulldozers to clear the stubbles of the felled trees.

However, succumbing to the pressure amid protests by locals, the department has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

“The Forest Department will undertake a new plantation project on 25 acres of land in Taratua reserve forest. However, no order has been issued to cut down the trees. An inquiry into the incident has been ordered. Stern action will be taken against the culprits after inquiry,” said Khordha Ranger, Jayakrushna Panda.

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