Hundreds of acacia trees planted along government 8 km roads in villages of Bhayana, Satbaria, Dulai and Nazirganj Unions of Sujanagar Upazila of Pabna District are being cut down without following any rules and regulations. The estimated value of the trees will be around crores of Tk. Though government proposed that people should not cut down trees unnecessarily and plant more trees along fallow lands to build a climate-tolerant Bangladesh, Iman Ali, executive director of the Bridge Disability Social Forestry Project, managed the UP chairman and local influential people, cut more than thousand trees by showing thumbs down to the government's directive.
The locals have alleged that these officials are destroying the trees for their own benefit. Upazila Social Service Officer Nazmul Hasan said on Tuesday that no organization has been registered under the Bridge Disability Social Forestry Project. An official of the Forest Department, who did not want to be named, said Iman Ali, a resident of Bhabanipur area of Sujanagar Municipality, had recently retired from the office of the Sirajganj Divisional Forest Officer as his tenure had expired. During his tenure, his son Tushar, who is currently working as a lecturer in a college in Narayanganj, has been selling these valuable trees in the name of Bridge Disability Social Forestry Project using the name of President and Executive Director himself. On Monday, it was seen on the spot that 1 km from Hemrajpur Mujib Dam of Bhayana Union of Sujanagar Upazila to Motpara Beel, 2 km from Kestpur of the same union via Durgapur to Motiar Beel, 1 km from Mujib Dam of Satbaria Union to Shyamnagar village 1 km from Mujibang of Nazirganj Union 1 km from Shantipur of Dulai Union to Kamarpara and 1 km from Chinakhara to Bagajani of the same union and 1 km from Khayran Bridge junction to Kapalipara and Ulat of Manikhat Union, thousands of trees have been cut down. The executive director of the organization called Bridge Disability Social Forestry Project is cutting down valuable trees claiming that it has been ordered by the department. According to government policy, extraction, removal or transportation of forest products from other government owned lands including roads and highways, railways, dam link roads, district council roads, local government and engineering department roads, which are not under the control of forest department or under forest department social forestry program is that the minimum district level officer of the said land controlling authority has to apply along with the Divisional Forest Officer. Subsequently, upon application, within a maximum of 45 (forty five) working days, after proper investigation by the Divisional Forest Officer or any officer authorized by him, the Divisional Forest Officer shall give permission to cut and extract such forest products. Pabna Divisional Forest Officer Kashyapi Bikash Chandra said the trees were being cut down completely illegally. In order to cut such trees, one has to apply to the local upazila administration with a resolution of the organization concerned. The application will be sent to the Pabna Deputy Commissioner along with the resolution and other necessary documents for cutting down the tree in written form by presenting it in the Upazila Monthly Coordination Meeting. Later the officer will send the application from Pabna Deputy Commissioner's Office to Pabna Divisional Forest Officer's Office (Social Forest Department). After inspecting the trees and fixing the price, the trees will be sold through tender subject to obtaining a permit to cut the trees, but no conditions were met. Sujanagar Social Forestry Nursery and Training Center Officer-in-Charge Nurul Islam said, "If the upazila administration wants to fix the price of those trees that are alive and cut down, we are ready to do that." Police OC Abdul Hannan said Iman Ali, the executive director of the Sako Disabled Social Forestry Project, was asked to come to the police station with the necessary documents to cut down trees, but was unable to do so. Sujanagar Upazila Executive Officer Raushan Ali said that the illegally cut trees were confiscated after receiving the news yesterday. And legal action will be taken against those involved in illegal logging. Iman Ali, executive director of SACO Disability Social Forestry Project, said he was cutting down trees following the rules after informing the concerned administration. Ahmed Firoz Kabir, MP from Pabna-2 constituency, said, "I was not aware of the issue of cutting down trees." Since now I am aware. Strict action will be taken if the incident is found to be true. Meanwhile, the locals have expressed their displeasure over the incident and demanded the concerned administration to take strict legal action against the accused.