Many wild animals have been dying in fires set by the authorities of a tea estate as part of forest clearing for expansion works in the past few days in Habiganjs’s Chunarughat.

Local people said around 150 trees aged around 50-100 years have also been cut down so far in the area.

After cutting the trees in the hills in the Girjaghar area under the Rashidpur forest beat, the Hatimara Tea Estates authorities are setting fires in the bushes. As a result, many animals are dying, they added.

The area is habited by many wild animals, including Maya deers, hanumans, squirrels, wild boars, monkeys, rabbits, birds, reptiles etc, as it is close to Rema-Kalenga, the second largest natural forest in the country.

Jagdish Goala, a local resident, told The Business Standard, “Many trees have been cut in the area. Many of them were more than 100 years old.”

Md Nannu Mia, from the Girjaghar area, said, “We have seen many animals coming out of the area being injured due to the fire. Many animals have died so far.”

M Saifur Rahman, another resident of the same area, said, “Two injured monkeys came to my house this morning. One of the monkey’s tail was burnt.”

Environmentalists said they raised the issue to the local forest officials but no action has been taken.

Ravi Kaste, coordinator of Mita Foundation, an environmental organisation, told TBS, “We went to talk to Moin Uddin, the manager of the tea estate. But he threatened us to shut our mouths. Later, we informed the divisional forest officer and beat officer of Rashidpur. However, they have not taken any action even after three days.”

Officials at the Hatimara Tea Estate did not let this correspondent enter into their premises to meet the manager. He could not be reached via phone either despite repeated attempts.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, divisional forest officer of the Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation Department, said, “I have been receiving calls about this issue for the past three days. Since the area is inhabited by wild animals, the action of setting the fire is not right. However, I have informed the forest beat officer in this regard.”

Saidul Islam, forest beat officer of Rashidpur, did not receive the phone call while contacted.

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