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Dhenkanal: Former Dhenkanal MLA Krushna Chandra Patra has blamed Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's private secretary VK Pandian for the felling of sal trees in Balarampur of Dhenkanal for setting up a beer factory.

Patra has further alleged Pandian of receiving percentage commission from the beer company. “Pandian has collected money from the beer company and pressurised the administration to cut the trees,” Patra alleged.

Meanwhile, social activist Prafulla Samantara has demanded a probe into the whole episode and action against bureaucrats involved in the scam.

“The CM should probe the involvement of bureaucrats and ascertain as to what level was the decision taken. The accountability should be fixed and the persons involved in the losses should be punished. Apart from this, compensation amount should be collected from them,” stated Samantara.

A resident of Balarampur said, “Our forefathers had planted and guarded the sal trees. Any amount cannot compensate the felling of these trees.”

On the other hand, politics has intensified over the tree cutting incident.

“As elections are getting closer, they (ruling-BJD) are collecting money to meet poll expenses and it has become the government’s main agenda,” said Bibhu Tarai, Congress spokesperson.

Expressing similar views, BJP MLA Pradip Purohit said, “It seems some activities are being carried in the ignorance of the CM. Bureaucrats and minister are involved in the scam and to save them from public anguish the CM has announced stoppage of the tree cutting. But in reality the trees have already been cut.”

Refuting the charges, Pratap Deb, BJD spokesperson said, “Opposition’s allegation that the ruling party is collecting funds for poll expenses is absolutely nonsense. Action will definitely be taken against authorities who are responsible for the felling of the trees.”

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