The upazila parishad of Hathazari has allegedly been selected for the Prime Ministe Sheikh Hasina announced National Award for Tree Plantation-2020 even though it did not plant any trees and was not included in the selection process.
Former Hathazari UNO Mohammad Ruhul Amin and his wife Farzana Sharmin Mausumi planted some 30,000 trees beside schools and roads in the area in 2019 and 2020 at their own expense.
Later, they applied for the award under the individual category and were nominated for the award at an upazila parishad meeting held in January last year.
However, as per reports, their names were replaced with Hathazari Upazila Parishad and the award category was changed from "individual" to "institution" during an 11 March meeting led by the deputy commissioner of Chattogram.
It has been alleged that Rashedul Alam, Hathazari upazila chairman and the district's Juba League general secretary, changed the names of Amin and Mausumi, using his political influence.
According to sources, he was assisted by the local district administration.
Disappointed, Amin and Mausumi have written to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to withdraw their names from the award process.
"The name of the upazila parishad was not among the nominations recommended by the upazila committee. Then how did it get nominated? In this situation, I am requesting to withdraw my name," reads the letter sent.
Rashedul's name has already been sent to the ministry. Moreover, he has taken all preparations to receive the award, the sources added.
When contacted, Rashedul said, "If anyone who holds any position in the upazila, plants trees, those belong to the upazila parishad.
"As such, it is me who will receive the award."
To put things into perspective, the Amin-Mausumi couple planted 400 forest trees, 1,300 fruit trees, 500 medicinal trees, 100 ornamental trees, and 100 trees of endangered local species on four acres of khas land.
Almost 99% of these trees are alive and four to seven feet high at present.
Meanwhile, multiple attempts were made to contact Chattogram Deputy Commissioner Mominur Rahman but he did not answer his phone.
When informed, Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change Farhina Ahmed has said that the whole matter will be probed.