Illegal felling of trees rampant in Kushtia

Published : 16 Sep 2023 08:24 PM

More than 600 fruit and forest trees have been ruthlessly cut down by a powerful group along the banks of the Ganga-Kapotaksha (GK) irrigation project in Kushtia, particularly in the suburban Kumargara area, causing concern among environmentalists.

Shockingly, this rampant destruction of trees has seemingly occurred without any effective oversight, and despite complaints filed by the Bangladesh Water Development Board (GK) authorities, the local police have yet to take any action.

Local residents report that for several days, an influential local gang has been indiscriminately cutting down fruit and forest trees, utilizing electric saws for swift removal. The affected area spans approximately one kilometer on both sides of the GK irrigation canal, which runs alongside Kumargara BSIC in Kushtia Sadar Upazila. Allegations of involvement in this tree cutting spree have been directed at an official from the Water Development Board's Irrigation Extension Department and the local municipal ward councilor number 20.

Tarikul, a resident of Kumargara Khalpara area, mentioned that tree cutting activities have been ongoing for approximately a month, with trees being felled during daylight hours and transported away on trolleys. The affected area, stretching from the culvert of the Kushtia-Jhenaidah highway to approximately one kilometer eastward, previously boasted between 600 to 700 trees.

Concerned individuals have reported the involvement of local councilor Ejazul Hakim, president of the canal irrigation committee, Abdul Khalek of Baria village, and assistant irrigation extension officer of Paubo Kushtia, Afzal Hossain, in this tree-cutting endeavor.

However, Afzal Hossain, the assistant irrigation extension officer of Paubo, Kushtia, refuted the allegations and claimed that local residents had cut down trees in front of their own houses, denying any involvement in the tree cutting.

Ejazul Hakim, stated that it was not his responsibility and suggested it was the association's duty, expressing ignorance regarding the individuals responsible for planting and cutting the trees.

Abdul Khalek, the President of the Canal Irrigation Committee, also denied any involvement in the tree cutting, asserting that an investigation is underway, and only the authorities can accurately identify those responsible.

GM Mohammad Kabir, Divisional Forest Officer of Kushtia Social Forestry Department, emphasized the importance of afforestation and tree planting for environmental preservation and quality of life. He vowed that action would be taken after a thorough investigation.

Rashidur Rahman, Executive Engineer of Paubo Kushtia, informed that a local delinquent gang had cut various types of trees along both sides of the irrigation canal. On August 6, Kushtia Model initiated legal action against Abdul Khalek and Salim Hossain of Baria village from the local oil union, following a written complaint filed at the police station. Nevertheless, despite a month passing since the incident, no case has been registered by Model Thana police in response to the tree theft complaint.