Two days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit in Odisha’s Balangir district, on Sunday a row surfaced over alleged of cutting of trees to prepare a temporary helipad.

Sameer Satpathy, a Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Balangir, has said that several trees were cut down in the district near the Railway Station ground to prepare a temporary helipad for the Prime Minister without taking prior permission.

Mr. Satpathy informed that an inquiry in this regard has already been ordered.

However, a senior BJP leader and Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan have claimed that people are “afraid” of PM Modi’s visit to the state so trying to spread false campaign by “misusing” forest officials.

Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Babaji Charan Raul said that “Following the direction of the DFO, a team will visit the site in order to ascertain the number of trees felled in the area.”

Since the area was under the jurisdiction of the Indian Railway Authority, an official of the ECoR (East Coast Railways) said that they are further conducting an investigation into the matter.

Chief Public Relations Officer of ECoR, JP Mishra said that “we are doing our own inquiry on the subject,” adding that the preparation of such helipad is the task of PWD (Public Works Department) of the state government.

Mr. Pradhan continued, “It is the local administration which decides as to where the prime minister’s helicopter will land.”

PM Modi is scheduled to attend an official event where he will inaugurate a host of projects, other than only addressing a BJP rally in western Odisha town at the time of his visit.

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