Around 18,000 Trees, Including 1,000 Gazari to be cut to Lay Gas Pipeline in Bangladesh
By Zeba Tarannum
Fifty-two kilometers from Dhanua to Elenga and 15.20 km from the west bank of Bangabandhu Bridge to Nakla; That means a total of 67.20 km length and 30-inch diameter gas transmission pipeline is being laid down.
In the meantime, the construction of a 52 km pipeline has already been completed. Now about 15 km pipeline of the Dhanua-Elenga section is yet to be constructed.
To build that 15 km pipeline, around 18 thousand trees will have to be cut down. There are about one thousand Gazari trees of natural forestry among them. Eighteen thousand trees will be cut down in seven to eight villages, including Kalmegha, Kalidas, Gazaria, Pratima Banki, and Chilimpur in Sakhipur Upazila of Tangail.
The concerned people claim that there is no way to take the gas transmission line in an alternative way without going through the forest or cutting down the trees.
The matter is now being discussed with the government’s implementing ministry/agency and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change / Department of Forest. These trees will be cut down under the project ‘West Bank of Dhanua-Elenga and Bangabandhu Bridge–Nakla Gas Transmission Pipeline (BD-P 78: Natural Gas Efficiency Project) (First Amendment)’.
The project is being implemented by Gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL) at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources / Department of Energy and Mineral Resources initiative.
Last June, an intensive monitoring report by the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Department (IMED) of the Ministry of Planning raised concerns about the safety of the valve station installed in the project.
“Some infrastructure, including valve stations, remains unprotected, leading to major accidents at any time,” the report said.
Besides, the construction work of 75% of the 67.2 km pipeline project has been completed. Land acquisition has been 90 percent. The rest is to install a pipeline 15 km inside the forest. As it is incomplete to lay this 15 km pipeline, the project is said to be at “complete investment risk.”
That is the entire amount of Tk. 825.51 crore invested in the project is at risk. Engineer Mohammad Shamsur Rahman, the director of the project, also agreed with the report. Information furnishes by him, the project which was supposed to be completed in 2018, is still running as the concerned authorities did not approve it in time.
According to the investigation, the Department of Forest is permitted to use the natural and social forest land of Sakhipur in July this year to take the gas transmission pipeline. However, permission to cut down the forest’s trees is yet to be granted. The implementing agency / entrepreneurial ministry will submit a proposal to the Cabinet Division to approve tree cutting to the Ministry of Forests and Environment.
When asked about this, Project Director Engineer Mohammad Shamsur Rahman told a Newsagency, “We have 15 kilometers of road rights. The forest is not so intensive here. Some are forest and some public areas.
In total, 53 acres of forest land will be used for the pipeline. The main pipeline will be constructed on 8 acres of land. We have proposed that we will cut down the entire tree in 8 acres of land.
And we will use 53 acres of land. They have given us a list of about 18 thousand trees here, including various species of saplings and social and natural forestry. More than a thousand wild forest trees will be cut down, and the rest of the trees will have to be cut down under social forestry.
Out of 18 thousand, 13 thousand are wild trees. The main concern is one thousand Gazari trees in natural forestry. We have to go to the Prime Minister’s Office for that (cut down a thousand of Gazari trees). The trees will be cut down on the other side of the Jamuna bridge, next to Tangail.”
He also said, “We have another 24-inch pipeline in operation in this region since 1985. With this line, gas is being supplied on the other side of Bangabandhu Bridge and in Rajshahi and Khulna areas in a limited range.
Our 30-inch pipeline under construction is the loop pipeline of this pipeline (existing 24-inch). A loop pipeline means building its capacity. If LNG comes in the future, we have built a pipeline to Khulna; we cannot connect due to the gas crisis. For that, LNG that will come in the future will be transmitted to Khulna-Rajshahi.
That’s why we have this pipeline in parallel. And there are forests in almost all parts of the Tangail district. That is why the area we are taking is the shortest place in the woods. There’s a previous pipeline installed we are going through that way.
As we go through the forest, some of the trees in the forest will be cut down. We have written to the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change to cut down that tree. Now they have allowed us to use the forest. Permission comes from the Prime Minister’s Office. Now cutting down trees is a new problem. That is why we will give another summary in the cabinet section. We will cut down trees by seeking permission.”
“I am willing to pay compensation for cutting down the trees,” Project Director Samsur Rahman further said, “In 2016, we wrote to the Ministry of Forests and Environment that We would construct a pipeline here, there is approved DPP (Development Project Proposal).
In that DPP, our infrastructure and line rights are also shown. But due to various complications, it is too late for us to get that approval. This project was supposed to be completed in 2018. Since I did not get permission from the forest, I have written to the Department of Forest many times about it. They have given small inquiries more than once.
I was allowed to use the forest land in July this year to comply with them. Now the new complication is cutting down trees. They (the Department of Forest) said to propose again for approval of tree felling. We have to submit to the Cabinet Division as well.
That is what we are working on now. We have said that our main proposal is to use forest land and cut down trees. Eighteen thousand trees will be cut down, for which it has given an estimate of compensation. They have offered payment of Tk.3 crore 68 lakh (Tk.36.80 million and $1.00= Tk.85).
We are providing that compensation too. We have a plan for renewal, three trees instead of one. Then why are you procrastinating? The Prime Minister approved, so please agree with us without delay in cutting down the trees. Otherwise, it will be too late. What was supposed to end in 2018 that could not be finished even at the end of 2020? “
When asked if there is an alternative way to lay the pipeline without damaging the forest, the project director said, “No, there is no other way to cross the forest.
There are two particular reasons for this. One if we go on the other way, the length of the pipe will increase a lot. We once calculated, the forest will fall but maybe less. But the pipeline will increase to maybe 20 to 30 kilometers. It will cost a lot, and we did not buy that amount of material.
Another thing is, we have six rivers on the way of the pipeline. We have to cross those six rivers. So if I go the other way, I have to bypass six rivers elsewhere. It will cost twice as much. It is not possible to consider these two issues.
Shamsur Rahman added, “I’ll do it parallel to the 24-inch line. My intention is that if there is a problem with these 24 inches, I can operate the line with 30 inches or take more gas. If I go the other way, the operating costs will increase. Secure, I also intend to expand. With these considerations, there is no other way but to cut down the trees. “
He further said, “It was not possible to finish in 2018. Now we hope to complete the project by June 2021. If we get approval from the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change to cut down the trees soon, If we can get down to the field in a month or a month and a half, it is suppressive. The Prime Minister has given us approval. I hope it won’t be too late. “
According to project sources, the project was supposed to be completed in June 2018. But GTCL failed to complete the work within that time due to various complications. Later, with the first revised, the time was extended until June 2020. The cost was reduced to Tk 825 crore 51 lakh 36 thousand ( Tk.255.136 million).
The government has contributed to Tk.398 crore 1 lakh 6 thousand, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Tk. 424 Crore 11 lakh 8 thousand and GTCL’s funding of Tk 73 crore 9 lakh 24 thousand. The concerned authorities could not complete the project in September beyond June this year.