Balangir : Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Balangir has led to the merciless felling of more than 1,000 standing forest-classified trees, triggering sharp reaction among green activists.
The standing trees died young as authorities concerned mercilessly pulled down the forest classified trees to create space for helipad for the prime ministerial chopper to land and take off near railway station in Odisha’s Balangir railway station.
The state forest department confirmed the cutting down of the trees while describing it as an act of impropriety.
Over 1,000 trees were found to have been felled in the area where the forest department had undertaken plantation of saplings in 2016 under urban plantation project. Plantation had been taken up in 2.25 hectares stretch land. The trees have been felled in 1.25 hectares of land, said Divisional Forest Officer, Samir Kumar Satpathy.
The land where tree cutting was carried out is owned by the railways. As per law, they should have obtained prior permission before felling down the trees. But they did not, he said.
Because of the exigencies following the visit of prime minister, trees had to be pulled down as the ground close to the railway station was found to be most suitable for chopper landing and takeoff from security point of view, said a railway official adding that we will take up the matter with the forest department on December 16 following the prime minister’s visit.
The forest department is examining the legal aspect of the violation. The railways will be asked to doubly compensate the loss of tree cover, DFO Satpathy added.
Prime Minister Modi will visit Odisha’s Balangir on January 15 and will participate in a function to unveil a series of Government of India projects worth Rs. 1,545 crores.
This is the Prime Minister’s third visit to Odisha from the past month. On his first visit, to Khurdha in December, the Prime Minister launched Rs 14, 523 crore worth projects in the state and during his second visit on January 5, he inaugurated projects worth Rs 4,733 crores, taking the total amount of projects in Odisha to Rs. 20, 801 crores in the past month.