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Campaign against handloom museum gains momentum

Staff Reporter

Environmentalists, students oppose the government move


Agitators raise slogans against the government

Felling of trees for the project opposed


BHUBANESWAR: Environmentalists, students and local residents on Sunday stepped up their protest against the proposal to clear forest for facilitating State Handicrafts and Handloom Museum at Khandagiri. Led by ‘Prerana', a social organisation, they raised slogans against the proposed project saying felling of 10,000 trees for the museum was a mindless decision.

“We are not against the project. The State government could locate the museum wherever it wants. But trees which was raised by it should not be cut down,” said Prerana president Dillip Srichandan. He said under no circumstances the State government would be allowed to clear the forested area.

Gadadhar Mohapatra, former divisional manager of Orissa Forest Development Corporation, who had been then in the forefront of the effort to create green patch, said the State government had already spent crores of rupees on creating the forest and attempts should not be made to destroy it.

According to him, between 1987 and 1991, OFDC was allotted about 120 acres of land on the foothill of historic Khandagiri and Udaygiri hillocks for creating forest. The corporation accordingly planted 7.81 lakh plants in 1991-92, 10 lakhs in 1992-93, eight lakhs in 1993-94, six lakhs in 1994-95 and four lakh plants in 1995-96.

Violation of rules

Environmentalists said the State government was going to violate the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act -2010 which says no construction would be permitted within 300 metres of a declared monument.

But the museum was proposed to be set up within 200 metres of archeologically important twin hills of Khandagiri and Udaygiri. Activists threatened that they would physically resist any attempt to cut down trees.

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