Jamaat-Shibir men block Dhaka-Pabna highway, felling a tree in front of Rajapur Jubo Unnayan office in Pabna Sadar upazila yesterday. They felled trees on eight spots of the road to enforce the blockade programme on the day. Photo: Star Indiscriminate felling of roadside trees to block roads during political agitation like blockades and hartals has become a matter of concern for forest officials and environmentalists in the district. BNP and Jamaat activists fell down 150 roadside trees worth Tk 1 crore for putting barricades at different places of Dhaka-Pabna, Pabna-Rajshahi and Kushtia-Pabna highways in last three months, said sources at district forest office. Visiting Dhaka-Pabna road a couple of days ago, this correspondent found signs of indiscriminate tree felling at Rajapur, Jalalpur, Bangabaria, Modhupur, Pushpopara and some other places of the highway to put barricade there. “At least one hundred roadside trees from Rajapur to Pushpopara point of Dhaka-Pabna highway and over 50 trees beside Pabna-Kushtia and Pabna-Rajshahi roads were felled in name of putting barricades during the last three months,” said Md Shamim Ahmed, head assistant of Pabna forest office. The Roads and Highways Department and Pabna Zila Parishad are owners of the trees, he said. “The trees destroyed by BNP-Jamaat men in name of hartal and blockades would be worth Tk 1 crore as most of the trees are big. Unruly BNP-Jamaat men also took some of the felled trees to their houses,” said Md Saidul Haque Chunnu, administrator of Pabna Zila Parishad. The Zila Parishad filed a few cases for felling roadside trees recently. Md Haniful Islam, officer in charge of Pabna Sadar police station, said, “Unruly activists often cut down roadside trees at dead of night to put barricades on the highway. The police remain alert to protect the trees but it is difficult to arrest the culprits red-handed.” “The felling of roadside trees badly affects the natural environment. Besides producing oxygen, the trees provide shade and help to keep the weather cool,” said agriculturist Zafar Sadek.