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Forest Department Puts Brakes on Tree-cutting In Paradip Port

Odisha forest department has put brakes on deforestation exercise and felling of standing trees including mangrove species from the core area of the Paradip port.

Trees are being pulled down to create space for infrastructure development projects. Cargo storage plots would come up at the deforested area, said an official of Paradip port Trust.  Taking exception to the deforestation activities, the state forest department stalled the tree-felling exercise along the seaside mangrove cover near the Nehru Bangala rest house.

“We have stopped the tree-cutting as it is being done in an illegal manner. Earlier this year, the port authorities had committed similar act. A case under section-27 under Orissa Forest Act, 1972 had been registered against PPT then. As the port is found to have committed repeated offence, fresh case would be registered against them and we would seek for issuance of non-bailable warrant against the port officials who ordered for clearance of forest species trees”, said Kujang Forest Range Officer, Pratap Chandra Mohanty. 

The standing trees were classified-forest species. The port should have obtained prior permission before cutting down the species. Forest clearance is mandatory before any form of deforestation activity even within the core area of the port. However the port erred and did not obtain the required permission, informed the official.

Forest clearance exercise was being carried out to establish multiple cargo stockyards at the old CISF complex. The stockyard project formed the part of ongoing expansion project of the port. As there is shortage of space at the operational stockyards at present, multiple stockyard has become imperative keeping in view growth in port traffic and cargo handling, said port officials. 

After the CISF complex was shifted to Sandhakuda area of port town, the old complex with vast expanse of over 100 acre of land is lying deserted and unused. The multiple stockyard project for stockpiling of ores and other goods is coming up at the said site with due approval obtained from port trust board members and ministry of shipping.      

The port authorities admitted that cutting down of trees without forest permission was a mistake. But it was committed inadvertently. We are soon seeking permission for tree-felling for the infrastructure expansion of the port, the port officials said.

To make up the loss of tree cover, port would undertake compensatory afforestation activity in adjoining places. A surge protection seawall would also be built to plug the ingress of tidal waves, added the port officials.


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