|Stubs of the tress felled along the Burdwan road. Picture by Rinku Mandal
Burdwan, June 1: Over 2,000 trees along a road and a canal in Burdwan have been felled by a private contractor who said he had been told by local Trinamul leaders to pay the party Rs 10 lakh and recover the money by selling the wood.
A police complaint was lodged by the pradhan of the CPM-run Raina panchayat, Madhabilata Dhara, who said she was being threatened by Trinamul workers ever since she filed the FIR, and had stopped going to office fearing an attack on her.
According to Dhara, contractor Fatik Majumdar had told her that Trinamul leaders Kajal Sarkar, Mahasin Chowdhury and a few others had told him to pay Rs 10 lakh for the party fund and cut the trees to recover the money.
Dhara said over 2,000 Sonajhuri and Akashmoni trees were planted 12 years ago on both sides of an irrigation canal and the 2km road by the panchayat under a social forestry scheme.
“When I went to the panchayat on May 15 after filing the FIR, the local Trinamul leaders threatened me with dire consequences,” Dhara told this correspondent.
Contractor Majumdar said: “They told me they will give me the trees and I have to pay them Rs 10 lakh. I have cut 75 per cent of the trees. I have got around Rs 15 lakh by selling the wood.”
The divisional forest officer of Burdwan, Ajoy Kumar Das, said permission is required from the forest department to cut any tree. “If any one is found cutting trees without permission, we impose a fine depending on the type or the number of trees felled.”
Local Trinamul leader and former working president of Raina-I block Trinamul committee, Kajal Sarkar, denied the charge.“We did not tell anybody to pay us money and cut the trees. Nor did we threaten the panchayat pradhan.”