MALKANGIRI: Infrastructure projects have come at a huge environmental cost in Malkangiri.
As many as 2,532 trees of various varieties have been felled over the years to pave way for at least 19 road projects in the district, as per data released by Malkangiri Forest division.
The stretch of National Highway-326 between Malkangiri and Kasighat which once used to be lined with trees now lies almost barren as 953 trees were felled for widening of the road.
As per the data, around 328 trees were felled for construction of a 50 km road between Govindpalli and Balimela. Construction of road between Kalimela and Podia resulted in chopping of 287 trees.
What has not helped the green cause is failure of Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC) to undertake compensatory afforestation in the district.
Around 183 trees were axed to construct a road between Venkatpalam and Pitakonda. Similarly, 121 trees were felled for a road connecting Malkangiri and Balimela, 26 for road between Govindpalli and Mahupadar, 99 for constructing the road between Kalimela and Venkatpallam, 73 for laying a 220 KV electricity line from Balimela to Malkangiri by OPTCL, 69 for Bisoiguda-Mantriput road, 54 for Malkangiri-Motu road and others.
As a result of deforestation, the area under moderate dense forest (MDF) in the district has reduced from 76,660.03 hectare in 2015 to 6,750.17 hectare in 2017.
However, the extent of very dense forest (VDF) cover in the district increased from 15,952.10 hectares in 2015 to 15,993.67 hectare in 2017, said Malkangiri DFO Pradeep Devidas Mirase.
He said, the firms that undertook the road widening projects have already deposited the money with OFDC for compensatory afforestation.
“The OFDC will submit the plantation scheme for each of these projects and 10 times the trees felled will be planted and maintained by OFDC,” Mirase told Express.
As per Forest Survey of India, the extent of water bodies in the district has come down from 23,672.63 hectares in 2015 to 19,546.02 hectare in 2017.
Green cover in tatters
2,532 trees felled over the years for 19 projects
953 trees felled for widening of NH-326 between Malkangiri and Kasighat
328 trees axed for construction of road between Govindpalli and Belimela