Saturday, May 23, 2009

Trees face Maoist axe during bandhs

Deba Prasad DashFirst Published : 23 May 2009 03:56:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 23 May 2009 09:55:59 AM IST

MALKANGIRI: Frequent felling of roadside trees during Maoist-sponsored bandhs has led to largescale deforestation in Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati and Ganjam districts of Southern Orissa over the years.

A top forest official said Maoist bandhs are one of major reasons for rapid loss of forest cover in the region.

According to him, more than 300 trees were felled by red rebels this year alone for blocking Malkangiri-Motu, Balimela-Chitrakonda, Jeypore-Govindpalli, Rayagada-Adaba-Koraput, Narayanpatna-Koraput, Baliguda-Bhanjanagar roads during the bandh calls given by them.

In Malkangiri district alone, more than 200 roadside trees were felled by the rebels during the two-day bandh on Wednesday and Thursday, he said. As large number trees was cut down, the road between Jeypore and Malkangiri could not be cleared till yesterday afternoon.

According to a forest department official of the district, huge number of trees along Govindpalli-Jeypore state highway have been felled by the Maoists since February 22 ‘Govindpalli Operation’ in which they killed a contractor P.K.Swain. Forest officials said the red rebels are cutting down the roadside trees as it is an easy way to snap road communication.

Regular night patrolling can effectively check the felling of roadside trees, but who will take the risk, the officials remarked. Can the unarmed forest officials take on the armed rebels, they questioned.

The environmentalists have expressed serious concern over the loss of green cover. If the cutting down of the trees goes on unchecked, it will have short and long-term impact on the environment of the region, they warned. Forest cover in South Orissa districts is fast depleting and the situation will deteriorate further if the massive felling of roadside trees goes on at an alarming rate, they remarked.

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