Chakdaha, June 13: A school authority in Nadia’s Chakdaha compelled to stop felling of at least three trees, aged about 50 years, located inside the school campus in the wake of protest by local people and nature-care activists in social media following some pictures and videos of cut-off branches went viral.
A justification offered by the embarrassed head master of the Bishnupur High School (HS) claiming that the necessary permission was taken from the Forest Department for felling the trees, also received a volley of protests from several people including eminent nature care activist Naba Dutta.
The school authorities eventually stopped the work only after what they claimed as ‘trimming’ of some of its branches; those were weakened due to termite attack. But, trimming of the trees also angered the nature lovers who have accused the school authorities for trying to kill the trees in a deliberate way.
A few months ago the school authorities obtained permission from the Forest department for felling of three “Chatka” (Albizia lebbeck family) trees located inside the campus adjacent to the boundary walls following which some students were injured and few cycles were damaged as some worn-out branches fell on them.
Headmaster Sushitava Bhattacharjee said, “Actually some branches of the trees were weakened due to termite attack and began to fall. Since many such branches of the trees have been posing a danger to the students and local people as well who use the adjacent road outside the campus, the managing committee of the school unanimously decided to seek permission for their felling from the Forest authorities. We first sought permission from the local panchayat authorities who gave their nod. The forest department officials conducted an inspection and later accorded their approval”.
“It was also decided not to sell the trees, rather to use the wood for making desks for students”, the headmaster added.
On Saturday the school authorities had begun with cutting branches of the trees to execute the felling order.
The incident came as a big shock to many local residents and former students of the school who posted some pictures and videos of some cut-off branches igniting a volley of protests in the social media, which eventually prompted the school authorities to stop the work.
“It was quite shocking to see a giant tree had been damaged by the school in such a way. At a time when people have been gasping for life in absence of oxygen, an attempt of felling the trees is just murderous”, a local resident said.
Head Master Sushitava Bhattacharjee said, “The decision of the student was taken only considering the security aspect of the students as some of whom were injured due to the fall of branches. Some local traders who were also injured outside our boundary wall….else we would not have taken such a decision. Nevertheless, we stopped the work when heard about the protest”.
Nature and science activist Bibartan Bhattacharjee came in support of the school authorities. “I talked to the head master and found nothing illegal as he obtained necessary permission for felling. Some people in social media have created an unnecessary hue and cry over the issue”.
However, Naba Dutta, an eminent nature care activist and secretary of Sabuj Manch, a platform for nature-lovers, has condemned the decision of the school in unequivocal terms.
“I have heard an audio tape of the head master of the school in which he has illogically tried to justify an unethical decision”, Datta said.
“Causing injury to students or damaging cycles cannot be the sole reason to justify felling of trees. If such a decision is taken just out of panic, then the ‘save trees’ slogan would no longer be inspiring at all. This is a clear contradiction on the part of the school and its head master, who instead of showing a way before the students adopted an unethical way. Their act would indulge and encourage students to take such a decision in future as they learnt that a trees can be felled for any reasons. Moreover, it is quite unfortunate to see the damage caused to the tree in the name of trimming. This might kill the tree”, Dutta stated further.
Dutta has also raised question about the legality of the decision of the school managing committee about felling of the trees and seeking permission from the Forest Department.