Tree felling in Sreerampore rly officers' colony rampant

Our Correspondent | Published: January 29, 2018 00:31:20

RAJSHAHI, Jan 28: a good numbers of age-old, large trees worth millions of Taka have been cut off and taken away from Railway Officers' Colony of Sreerampore area under the city during the last six months. All those trees were cut off without inviting any tender though the west zone authorities of railway in Rajshahi claimed the process of inviting tender for cutting those trees was underway.

Railway employees engaged in maintaining the colony said earlier the colony was used as the office of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) but after their departure, railway officials were using the colonies for nearly last one year. For last six months, an orgy of cutting large, age old trees started there but who ordered to cut off those trees were not known to those employees.

Nazib Kaiser, assistant executive engineer of west zone railway who is in charge of maintenance of those trees, however, claimed only three to four trees have been cut and remains of those trees are still inside the colony and the process of inviting tender for cutting rest of trees is underway.

It is learnt, the area inside the railway officers' colony is regarded as 'Restricted Area'. After visiting the huge compound of the colony, it was seen 73 huge trees have been cut from inside the compound. Out of which 55 trees have been cut during the recent past and 18 have been cut earlier. Moreover, many other small trees have been cut which have not been included in the count. 

The entire colony area was devastated with severed trunks of those huge trees. Some of those trunks were tried to seen to conceal with soil but the 20 trunks of the trees cut recently remained bare. Six more trunks of large trees have been burnt to conceal those but those were not burnt completely and burnt-trunk with coal and ash was clearly visible.

Before entering inside the colony, railway official Nazib Kaiser had claimed all the severed trees have been kept inside the colony but after visiting the colony, this correspondent noticed some small branches, some leaves of mango and tree small sized Sajina, Simul and jack-fruit trees were only left inside the boundary of the colony. Almost all the large cut trees belonged to mahogany and mango were not visible anywhere.

Jasim Uddin, water pump operator of the colony, was hesitating to talk to this correspondent.  He said he has no idea who are behind the incident. Maybe those who cut those trees have procured permission from any railway official.  He further said, the orgy of cutting those trees stared five to six months before. "We are petty servant and did not dare to ask the identities of the persons who cut those trees", said Jasim.

According to a source of railway, soon after the office of RAB was withdrawn from the colony, the rail authorities started to repair and renovate the buildings situated there. Now, the colony is inhibited by General Manager of West zone railway Khairul Alam, Chief Engineer Ramjan Ali and Additional Chief Engineer Sobutagin and other officials with their family members. Soon after they entered into the colony, the fiesta of cutting the trees has been started.  Trees worth at least Tk one crore (10 million) have been devastated, the source claimed.

Khairul Alam, general manager of west zone railway and chief engineer Ramjan Ali did not respond to their mobile phones to comment in this connection.

SM Sazzad Hossain, divisional forest officer of Rajshahi, said procuring permission from the forestry department is a must before cutting any tree from any government land and forest department does not allow to cut down any live tree except for the sake of any development of infrastructure. He added, he has no idea whether the railway authorities procured any permission from the department of forestry before cutting those precious trees.

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