Bangladesh: Century-old trees felled for widening highway

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) is chopping trees, including a number of century-old trees, for widening the Elenga-Bhuapur regional highway.

The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) is chopping down some 271 trees, including a number of century-old trees, for widening the Elenga-Bhuapur regional highway.

The trees include raintree (rendi koroi), mahogany, redwood (shishu), red silk cotton tree (shimul), mango, and jackfruit, said sources at Arboriculture Department, an affiliated body of the RHD.

Under the project, the road will be widened to 24 feet from the existing 18 feet and 10 bridges will be rebuilt, said Aminul Ehsan, executive engineer of RHD in Tangail.

The highway has been seeing huge pressure of vehicles as a large number of trucks use this road to transport fertiliser and other raw materials to and from the Jamuna Fertilizer Company Ltd in Jamalpur’s Sarishabari, the RHD engineer said, adding that the Tk 96 crore project will be completed by June 2020.

Contacted, Abu Sayeed, executive engineer of Arboriculture Department in Dhaka, said the trees were owned by the RHD and they had conducted a survey before selling the trees to the contractors in a public auction.

The 271 trees were sold at Tk 45.30 lakh, he added.

Meanwhile, the Forest Department has recently cut down more than 2,000 trees, most of which are Akashmoni, planted along both sides of the road in question.

Harun-or-Rashid, divisional forest officer in Tangail, told The Daily Star that the trees were planted 12 to 13 years ago as a part of the government’s social afforestation programme.

“Now we are cutting down the trees as a part of our routine works,” he said, adding that new trees will be planted once the road-widening works are finished.

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