Trees cut down to block roads during strikes is usual in Bangladesh which is why receent political agitations has led the nation to pay a price in green, the Environment Forests Minister Hasan Mahmud has claimed.A total of 10,042 trees, across 41 Upazilas of 16 districts, were cut down during the recent strikes and violence, Minister for Environment and Forest, Hasan Mahmud informed the Parliament on Monday.
“These trees were felled during the violence unleashed by the 18-Party alliance and Jamaat-Shibir,” the Minister said while replying to a query from a ruling party MP, Nurul Islam Sujan.
“Between January and May, after the war crimes verdicts, 10,042 trees were cut down in Noakhali, Laxmipur, Patuakhali, Bhola, Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Dinajpur, Satkhira, Bogra, Joypurhat, Jessore, Sirajganj, Chandpur, Nilphamari, Pabna and Jhenaidah.”
“These trees were the properties of Department of Forest,” he said.
“Fifty-six cases have been filed throughout the country for illegal tree felling and 83 people have been nabbed already,” he said, adding, “It is not possible to compensate the losses soon, but the government is active.”
He was however not clear whether the government has plans to replant in a big way to cover the losses.
In response to a question from Sadhana Haldar, Hasan Mahmud said that according to some scientists the sea level will witness a 0.08-1.3 metre rise by 2100. “They say, Bangladesh will be 15 percent inundated if the level rises by a metre.”
Due to the adverse impact of climate change the sea level might raise 45 centimetres by 2050 and that would submerge 10-15 percent of the country, Mahmud said.
In response to another question from MP Fazilaun Nesa Bappi, the Minister pointed out cutting of trees for the Hifazat-e Islam’s Motijheel rally on May 5. “Some thousands of trees were felled there in the name of movement. This is extremely worrying.”
“It is necessary to take legal actions against those perpetrators,” he said.
According to the Minister, an inter-ministerial meeting was held to discuss the issue on May 21 at the office of the Prime Minister. Directives were issued to take actions against those involved in illegal tree felling after the meeting.
“The City Corporations are also entitled to take legal actions in this matter.”