Odisha: Ahead of PM Modi’s visit, row surfaces over chopping trees for helipad

Balagir: Just two days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Odisha’s Balangir district, a row surfaced over alleged cutting of trees to prepare a temporary helipad, on Sunday.

Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Balangir, Sameer Satpathy said several trees were cut near the railway station ground in the district to prepare a temporary helipad without obtaining prior permission. He added that an inquiry in this regard has been ordered.

Union Petroleum Minister and senior BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan, however, claimed that people who are “afraid” of the prime minister’s visit are trying to spread a false campaign by “misusing” forest officials.

“Following the direction of the DFO, a team will visit the site in order to ascertain the number of trees felled in the area,” said Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Babaji Charan Raul.

As the area is under the jurisdiction of the railways, an official of the East Coast Railways (ECoR) said they are also conducting an inquiry into the matter. “We are doing our own enquiry on the subject,” Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of ECoR, JP Mishra said, adding, that the preparation of such a helipad is task of the public works department (PWD) of the state government.

Pradhan added, “It is the local administration which decides as to where the prime minister’s helicopter will land.”

PM Modi is slated to attend an official function where he will launch a host of projects, besides addressing a BJP rally in the western Odisha town during his visit.

(With inputs from PTI)