Andaman refutes Indian Express and DNA reports on tree felling

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Port Blair, Jan 29 (UNI) Andaman and Nicobar administration today refuted media reports on felling of trees for clearing space for a helipad in Wandoor and called them 'biased and misleading'.

Fighting pressures from media reports and complaints regarding large scale felling of trees and cancellation of bookings made by tourists during the three-day visit of President of India, the state administration, in an official statement today criticised the reports published by DNA, Mumbai and Indian Express, New Delhi.

The Administration, in an official clarification said that an already existing helipad in Wandoor Village near the popular beach in South Andaman has been expanded and upgraded to facilitate the landing and take-off of Air Force helicopters to transport the visiting VIPs and VVIPs.

The expansion and upgradation works have been carried out by the Andaman Public Works Department as per the specifications and suggestions by the Air Force authorities. The helipad is situated on revenue land, close to the Wandoor beach and hence there was no need for any environment or CRZ clearance.

Only 56 Casuarina trees had to be cleared from the funnel area in order to ensure safe landing and take-off of the helicopters as mandated by the Air Force authorities, the clarification added.

It said that these trees were removed by the Andaman Public Works Department, after obtaining permission from the Department of Environment and Forest of the A&N Administration, as felling of these trees do not attract any provision of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

The Department of Environment and Forest initiated immediate action and planted suitable species of the trees in the vacant areas for restoration of beauty of the beach, it added.

Similarly, it is also clarified by the Administration that not a single tree was cut either in Port Blair Municipal area or in Havelock Island in connection with the VIP visit. Only a few pruning of branches of avenue trees had been carried out at certain places, along the VVIP route for security reasons.

Regarding reports of large scale cancellation of booking made by tourists, it had also clarified that the Department of Tourism had to cancel the bookings of accommodation at Dolphin Resort Havelock from December 20 - 31 last year, in order to make arrangement for the staff accompanying the VIPs.

As a result, booking of 81 tourists, who had booked the accommodation during this period had to be cancelled. Out of the 81 tourists, 11 tourists requested for alternate arrangement at other guest houses of the department, and were immediately accommodated, the release said.

UNI SKR LL DB1937

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