The government has decided to implement the four-lane project on the Jessore-Benapole highway without chopping down the century-old trees along the road.
“We’ve taken the decision honouring the environmentalists’ advice and public opinion. We’ll go to India to see the Benapole Road in a week, pending the approval of the prime minister,” said secretary to the Road Transport and Highways Division (RTHD) Nazrul Islam.
The RTHD is to modify the current project accordingly after it surveys the Indian model of Benapole Road in two weeks, according to the environment and forests ministry.
For the time being, a Tk 270 million project will be implemented to repair the road. The RTHD said tenders for the project had already been invited.
Following the tour, the Development Project Proposal will be modified and forwarded to the planning commission and it would be assessed if the four-lane upgradation is possible saving the trees.
At the beginning of this month, the Jessore district administration took a decision to chop down 2,312 trees along the Jessore-Benapole highway to make it a four-lane road, which drew criticims from the environmentalists and the common people alike.
On 18 January, the High Court issued an order to halt the decision to chop down the trees for six months.
The trees lining the highway include babla, khoyer, korai, akashmani, mango, jackfruit and shimul trees, as well as 745 ancient rain-trees.
Way back in 1931, district collector Johnson took the initiative to design a 24 feet wide Jessore-Benapole highway. The highway has been upgraded since then several times, but not expanded.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has allocated Tk 3.29 billion for the project.
According to RTHD, this 24-feet wide road will be widened to 40.35 feet starting from the Daratana of Jessore while the whole project is scheduled to be completed by 31 December 2019.
*The report is rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.