No trees were cut to make space for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s helipad during his visit to Odisha’s Balangir on Tuesday, 15 January, the East Coast Railway (ECoR) spokesperson told Odisha News Insight.
The clarification comes after there were news reports that claimed hundreds of trees were cut to clear land for temporary helipad space and for security measures for the PM’s helipad.
The ECoR further told the news portal that leaves and branches of few trees were cut to make space for the helipad.
PM Modi is in Balangir to inaugurate a Multi-Modal Logistics Park in Jharsuguda and the 15 km Balangir-Bichupali new railway line.
Earlier Claims of Trees Being Cut
Earlier, speaking to The Indian Express, Divisional Forest Officer Samir Kumar Satpathy had said no permission was sought from the forest department prior to felling of trees and a notice will be issued to the Railways as the trees stood on its land.
The Railways, however, has denied allegations over granting permission and blamed the public works department (PWD) for the actions.
“It’s the Public Works Department (PWD) that can construct helipads. Railways do not carry out such activities” said a spokesperson for East Coast Railways.
The PWD official further denied allegations made by the Railways, saying that “They had no idea who cut the tress," The Indian Express report added.
Past Incidents of Tree-felling in Odisha
This isn't the first time the state government received flak for unscrupulously clearing forest land.
In November 2018, locals had come out in large numbers to protest against the cutting down of over 950 trees for the construction of a brewery project in Odisha's Dhenkanal area.
Following the incident, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had issued an order to stop the cutting down of trees in Dhenkanal and had asked the Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC-Northern Division) to conduct an inquiry into the incident.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and All India Radio News.)
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