New Delhi: Reacting to criticism around cutting of trees for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll rally in Pune, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Wednesday defended the decision, saying such a thing has been done earlier as well.

”Every time we cut trees, we plant more. It is a rule of the forest department. And why is there so much fuss about cutting of trees for Modi’s rally? Trees have been cut for rallies of others too, and for rallies of previous prime ministers. I wonder why there was no such awareness previously,” he said.

Ahead of the upcoming Maharashtra Assembly Elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address an election campaign rally on the campus of Sir Parashurambhau (SP) College
on Thursday.

Javadekar’s statement came after opposition parties in Maharashtra alleged that some trees located on the campus of SP college in Pune were chopped on Monday for PM’s October 17 rally.

NCP MP Vandana Chavan alleged some ‘subabul’ trees around the ground, where the rally will be held, were felled by the college administration. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Rupali Patil also said the trees were hacked.

“They have cut the trees because they believed that the trees would  prove hindrance for the PM rally,” she claimed.

However, the college authorities on Tuesday denied the allegation saying only certain branches hanging dangerously were cut for the safety of students who play there, which has nothing to do with the PM’s event.

The incident comes close on the heels of the Aarey protest where Mumbaikars took to the streets to protest against the felling of trees in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony.