A 125-year-old olive tree at Bogra’s Nawab Palace has been sold without approval from the authorities creating a huge public outcry in the locality.
Visiting the spot on Sunday, this correspondent found the rare tree, locally known as zaitun tree, being cut down by some people.
It is learnt that the tree was sold last week for only Tk28,000 to a local resident named Rokon Sheikh.
The historic palace, linked to Pakistan's former premier Syed Mohammad Ali Chowdhury, was built in 1884.
A museum and an amusement park are now operational in the palace, which was sold to three local businessmen by the sons of Mohammad Ali on April 17 last year amid protests by conservationists.
In the face of continues protests, the government declared the palace a reserved archaeological site only two days later. But local people allege that the authorities are reluctant to protect the site.
Rokon Sheikh said that he had bought the zaitun tree from Administrative Officer of the palace Jahidul Islam Khan Loje.
Jahidul, who is appointed by the three businessmen, said that the tree had been damaged during the recent storm.
"It was sold [last week] to save the palace as per the directive of Nahid Sultana, regional officer of the Department of Archaeology," he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Nahid, however, claimed that nobody had consulted her before selling the tree.
[caption id="attachment_57406" align="aligncenter" width="690"] The 125-year-old zaitun (olive) tree is being cut off by workers on the premises of the Nawab Palace in Bogra
The Cultural Affairs Ministry had marked the palace as a reserved archaeological resource, but its acquisition was yet to be completed, Nahid said, adding that her office was responsible only for overseeing the interior of the palace.
Bogra Forest Department Range Officer Tozammel Haque said that DC office's approval was necessary to cut down a tree. Upon the DC’s directives, forest officials are to visit the site in person and evaluate the price of the tree.
But in this case, no official clearance was taken beforehand, he added.
Journalist and historian Abdur Rahim said that the tree had long been bearing the heritage of the palace.
Syed Sobhan Ali Chowdhury (great grandfather of Syed Mohammad Ali Chowdhury) was awarded the title "Nawab" in 1892 by the British ruler and a grand programme was organised in the palace following the recognition, he told the Dhaka Tribune.
The chief guest of the event, then lieutenant governor of Bengal Charles Eliot, had planted the zaitun tree to make the occasion memorable, Rahim added.