Agartala: With the Agartala Municipal Corporation (AMC) working with towards developing the capital of Tripura into a ‘smart city’, hundreds of trees — some of which are even several decades old — are being chopped down by the West Tripura district forest department following the order from the authorities concerned.
On Sunday, when trees were about to be felled in the Northgate area adjoining VIP Road, a group of youths came up with placards in their hands protesting against the Agartala Municipal Corporation’s move.
Speaking with EastMojo, Bilash Chandra Roy, a student from Agartala, said they had gathered to protest against the felling of trees in Agartala. He also said that the government has decided to develop Agartala city and that is why they were about to cut down the trees.
“We don’t want a smart city where only the concrete roads would be available with no trees left. If required, we would start something like ‘Chipko movement’ to save our trees from being cut down,” Roy said.
Another protester, Suraj Ghosh, said, “We celebrate World Environment Day by planting trees but the development of the country is incomplete without caring for our Mother Earth.”
“It is our responsibility to save our Mother Earth or else the next generation will not have enough oxygen. If this continues, then in the next 20 years or so, we may have to purchase oxygen and some companies have already started the process,” Ghosh said.
“Let the development be focused on health, education, for the public ad not by chopping down trees. It takes 100 years to develop one tree. If the government wants to chop down a tree which is a decade old, then let them first plant some and develop 10 such trees,” the protesters demanded.
Speaking with EastMojo, West Tripura divisional forest officer Shaktikant Singh said that a request was made by the AMC to remove the trees since there is some drain work that has to be completed.
“We were requested to remove the trees which are bothering the work of drainage. Since Agartala sees huge flooding during the rainy season and drain improvement work is going on, if these trees are there, then it becomes difficult,” Singh said.
When asked if countries in Europe can divert roads to avoid cutting of tees, the DFO said it is is possible but it takes a lot of money. “I have no authority to comment on this,” he said.
“This is not in our jurisdiction. Our Jurisdiction runs only till the tree. This is not forest land, but AMC land. If anybody makes a request then we have no authority to stop but give permission to chop the trees,” Singh added.
He was also quick to reply that there is no limit on chopping down trees. if the government decides, then trees can be felled.
Meanwhile, on December 24, chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb himself apprehended three timber smugglers who were chopping dow a teak tree in Baramura hill area on his way to Agartala from Kanchanpur in North Tripura district.
Noticing the falling of trees, the chief minister asked his convoy to stop and inquire about the matter. They were found to be labourers working on the instruction of their “boss”, he was told.