The media reports that thousands of fully grown trees were cut is false as only 40 shrubs and saplings were removed and six trees were pruned.
On 13th January, The Hindu reported that over a 1,000 trees have been felled to make a temporary helipad for the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the western Odisha town of Balangir.
The Hindu reports:
Under the urban plantation programme, saplings were planted on 2.25 hectares controlled by the Indian Railways in 2016. As a vacant land was required for the helipad, authorities had to clear 1.25 hectares.
The State forest department had conducted a preliminary inquiry into the tree felling. “The allegation of tree felling is true. No prior permission was sought from us for it,” said Samir Kumar Satpathy, Balangir Divisional Forest Officer.
On 14th Jan, The week published a report by PTI that two days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Balangir district, a row erupted over the alleged cutting of trees to prepare a temporary helipad for the visit. As per the report:
"Following the direction of the DFO, a team will visit the site in order to ascertain the number of trees felled in the area," said Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Babaji Charan Raul. Since the area happens to be under the jurisdiction of the Railways, an official of the East Coast Railways (ECoR) said they are also conducting an inquiry into the matter.
Times of India Bhubaneshwar reported that no trees were in fact felled to make the temporary helipad but only small shrubs were cut down. It reported that East Coast Railway spokesperson had asserted that no trees were felled and that a January 7 video prior to helipad making shows there was no big tree on the spot.
You can watch the video here:
The enquiry done by Railways reveals only Shrubs and few saplings have been removed for PM helipad, no big tree cut. However, leaves/branches of few trees on Railway land had to be pruned to give full and proper space for helicopter movements. As per reports, all concerned authorities were a part of all discussions and in greater administrative interest, few plants and shrubs had to be removed.
As per TOI, Railway will estimate the total loss of plants and replant more than two times of saplings lost. Initial estimates say not more than 40 shrubs and saplings removed. About 6 trees on Railway land have been pruned.
The videos and photos show poor quality of maintenance of plantation.
The media reports that thousands of fully grown trees were cut is clearly false as only 40 shrubs and saplings were removed and six trees were pruned.
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