Around 42 large trees on the eastern side of Mohiuddin Jahangir Sarani are being chopped down after Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) authority sold those for a meagre price of Tk 1.98 lakh to make way for construction of a sewerage drain.
According to RCC sources, the trees are 10 to 20 years old and include Mahogani, Koroi, Paikor, Babla and Epil Epil trees, which generally fetch a good price in the market for their timber value.
Environmental activists say the felling of the trees would hamper the ecology of the northwestern city generally known as Green City and that such a move should not be allowed.
Locals allege that the price quoted by RCC is peanuts compared to their real market value.
A private organisation, Modina Printing and Packaging, purchased the trees and begun felling the trees yesterday morning and seven trees were chopped down by the afternoon, witnesses said.
Some branches of the felled trees were piled up for sale as firewood at a nearby wayside shop.
Shahanur Alam, proprietor of Modina, said he won the job through a tender.
He added that he would sell the tree trunks as timber and branches as firewood.
"The decision to chop down trees to make way for a drain does not make any sense. The authority should reconsider its decision," Mahtab Uddin, an environment activist, said.
When contacted, RCC's acting chief engineer Ashraful Haque said that felling the trees was not in the plan of the Secondary Town Integrated Flood Protection Project.
"However, the necessary arose as these trees stand on the alignment of the planned drain," he said.
"The job was allocated in accordance with the offer of highest money in an open tender," he said.