DHENKANAL: A whopping 13,000 sal trees will be chopped down to make way for Talcher-Kamakshyanagar-Sukinda railway project. This apart, survival of other precious trees and plants will be monitored by Dhenkanal Forest division in case those are cut down by mistake.
According to forest office sources, most of the marked trees which are more than two feet high are sal trees coming under Kamakshyanagar-East and West, Mahavir road range and Bhuban Reserve Forest in the district.
Stage 1 clearance for the project is over and acquisition of private land is in progress. After clearance of stage-2, the railway officials will enter reserve forest, DFO PK Sahoo said. Trees under revenue forest and reserve forest will be cut down, he added.
What is worrying the environmentalists is that compensatory afforestation will be taken up later on the basis of the projects.
Locals have raised questions on many medicinal plants being cut down and Forest department should assess its impact on environment. They should make efforts for compensation after due survey, locals said. Enumeration of medicinal plants should be done and compensated accordingly, locals emphasised. The DFO said 10 saplings will be planted for each tree cut.
The denudation is likely to affect the elephants the most. With the trees cut down and railway line running through the district, the jumbos would have little cover left and will in all likelihood leave for neighbouring forests in Athagarh or Narasinghpur. The DFO, however, said plans are on to protect some their habitats and mark their path.