Felling of tress for road construction triggers controversy

Kendrapara: Felling of trees by water resources department for road repair work has triggered a controversy in Odisha’s Kendrapara with forest department registering forest law violation case and making a seizure of earth-digging JCB machine.

More than 500 matured eucalyptuses, Neem and other trees along Marsaghai-Jamboo canal road were pulled down to relay a road coming under irrigation division, officials said.

The forest department swung into action and put brakes on the road work as the department had broken law and had resorted to tree-felling without mandatory permission from the forest department.

We have halted the tree cutting work and seized a JCB machine and the felled logs. The forest department also filed a case under sections – 4, 12, 14 and 21 of Forest Act, 1972 against the contractor Shiva Prasad Parida who felled around 500 trees from Danapur to Marsaghai without obtaining any permission from the forest department. We have also issued a show cause notice to the executive engineer of the irrigation department over this issue,” said Himanshu Sekhar Muduli, the forest range officer of Kendrapada.

Irrigation department has been directed to fiscally compensate the forest department in the lieu of cutting trees and it would be the work of the forest department to plant ten saplings in place of each tree that would be cut down as part of afforestation measure, he said.

In 2002, the forest department planted trees on the both sides of the 35 kilometer long Danapur to Jamboo.

Recently the irrigation department decided to start 12 kilometer long road-widening work from Danapur to Marsaghai at the cost of Rs 6 crores for which trees were felled.

“We have stopped the road widening work. We will restart the road-widening work after obtaining proper permission from the forest department to cut the trees on both sides of the road. This road would be widened from Danapur to Marsaghai and for this purpose, a large number of standing trees would have to be felled down,” said Assistant Engineer of irrigation department, Agani Behera.