Berhampur, July 15 (LocalWire): Forest department officials stopped tree felling inside the MKCG Medical College campus here for road widening after local residents and environmental activists staged a protest on Sunday.
The proposed 1.3 km-long road from the New Bus Stand to the medical college was being built with an estimated cost of Rs 7 crore and as many as 188 trees were facing the axe for widening of the road.
When the labourers of state-owned Odisha Forest Development Corporation began cutting the tress, several people from the nearby areas thronged the spot and demanded the felling be stopped.
As the protest intensified, OFDC stopped cutting the trees.
‘There is no justification of widening the road by cutting so many trees as there is no heavy traffic here.
Moreover, the medical college gate always remains closed due to prevention of movement of heavy vehicles,’ said former chairman,Berhampur Development Authority (BeDA), Subash Moharana.
Most of these trees were planted by the BeDA and Aryabhatta Foundation, an organization that plants trees.
‘We are not opposing development work but it could be done with minimal tree feeling,’ he added.
BJP’s district president Kanhu Charan Pati also objected felling of trees. He said BJP will launch an agitation, if they go ahead with the felling.
‘Felling of trees is necessary to widen and make a four-lane road.
It will be convenient for free movement of ambulance and patients,’ said medical college principal, Radhamadha Tripathy. He said it’s the government’s decision to make four-lane road inside the medical college campus.
The road work was entrusted to PWD, Berhampur.
‘The contractor has taken permission from the forest department to cut the trees.
When they protested, we stopped cutting,’said an engineer of works department Berhampur.
‘We have also ensured the contractor will plant 10 trees in place of one ,’ said superintendent engineer, R&B Berhampur circle BK Padhy.
Divisional Forest Officer, Berhampur, Ashish Kumar Behera, said they had given permission to cut trees with a promise to plant three to five-year-old trees.
‘We have also asked them to plant trees prior to cutting the trees,’ he said.
‘Since the people are protesting, we will review the order,’ DFO said.