CM Orders To Stop Felling Of Trees In Jhinkaragadi Forest In Dhenkanal

Bhubaneswar: Taking note of the vehement protest by the people of Balarampur village under Odapada block in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district against the forcible felling of hundreds of valuable trees in the Jhinkaragadi forest for the proposed beer factory, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday directed the district administration to immediately stop the tree-felling.

The Chief Minister also directed the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC) to investigate into the matter, a release by the office of the Chief Minister said.

The directive of the Chief Minister came after the issue was raised by the Opposition BJP in the State Assembly on Saturday.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, leader of the BJP legislature party KV Singhdeo had said while the state government has decided to plant trees alongside the riverbanks, on the other hand, it has ordered to cut more than 20,000 valuable trees from Jhinkargadi forest, on the other. “This is a stark testimony of the double standards of the state government,” he pointed out.

Replying to the statement of the BJP leader, Excise minister Sashi Bhusan Behera said that the state government will plant double the number of trees that are felled in the forest.

Stating that the IDCO has allotted the land to the beer manufacturing company, he said there are some portions of the land of the Revenue department near the village where around 600-700 saplings would be planted.

Berating the decision of the state government, social activist Prafulla Samantray said the police have arrested the villagers for protesting the cutting down of the trees in the forest which they have been maintaining for years.

He further said that the villagers had moved the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to direct the state government not to fell any tree of the village forest land. While the Tribunal was scheduled to hear the case on November 20, the district administration decided to fell the trees today. “Only a lunatic government can take such decision. We will not allow the beer company to set up its plant in the area,” he maintained.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone of the said project through video conferencing on November 3.

However, the construction work of the project scheduled to begin on November 8 was stopped due to the protest by the villagers.

Talking to the media on Sunday, the aggrieved villagers said had the Chief Minister directed the district administration on Saturday, many trees would have been saved.

Reacting to the statement of the Excise minister that the state government will plant double the number of trees that have been felled in the forest, they said how many years it will take the saplings to grow into big trees?

Several villagers were seen congregating in the forest on Sunday morning with several women found crying while holding the trees that have been felled.

Meanwhile, the police that had detained over 20  villagers during their protest on Saturday, released them on PR bond in the evening.

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