About 200 trees have been cut down at Shahjalal upasahar in the city to construct roadside drains by the Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) without any approval from the forest department.
SCC workers chopped down the trees from Monday night to Tuesday afternoon, cut those into pieces and then removed those in trucks, said locals.
Locals alleged that most of the felled trees have already been sold and a local syndicate is involved in it.
Upon receiving the news, a team of the forest department visited the spot.
Aftab Chowdhury, the National Tree Plantation Award winner and a resident of the area, said he had planted most of the trees which have been felled.
Aftab Chowdhury said, “Trees have been chopped down indiscriminately. They cut down 200 trees where about 50 trees needed to be felled. The trees could be sold at Tk one lakh each.”
According to SCC’s engineering unit, construction of drains and road expansion work in 15 km area of the city started in the current fiscal year at a cost of around Tk 100 crore.
Drain construction and road expansion work started on Road No. 21, 37 and 38 of C Block in Shahjalal Upasahar area recently. Trees of various species including ‘Rain tree’ were planted on both sides of these roads in the area in 1990.
According to the rules of the forest department, prior permission of the forest department is needed before cutting down trees on privately owned or government land. If it sees tree cutting logical after verification, then the price of the trees is fixed and permission is given on the condition of planting more trees.
Sylhet City Ranger of the Forest Department Md Shahidullah said the city corporation authorities sent a letter to the forest department on October 17 seeking permission cut down some trees to build drains on both sides of the road in the area. “When our staff went to visit the area the next day they found all trees felled.”
"We are trying to find out how many trees have been cut down and where they have been taken," he said.
Nur Azizur Rahman, chief engineer of the Sylhet City Corporation, said they had sent a letter to the forest department for approval . However, some workers of the city corporation cut down the trees before getting permission. We will take action against those responsible for this,” he added.