Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday cancelled the setting up of a brewery plant in Dhenkanal district where hundreds of trees were felled despite strong protests by the villagers.Mr. Patnaik took the decision based on the recommendations of Revenue Divisional Commissioner D.V. Swamy, who probed the felling of trees in Jhinkargadi forest.“Based on the factual report, the allocation of bottling plant may be cancelled and alternative site may be provided. Unnecessary felling of trees may be stopped forthwith, and immediate plantation should be taken up,” Mr. Swamy noted in his report submitted to the government.The government went back on its decision following a massive public outcry.Mr. Patnaik had himself performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the ₹102-crore project, which was to be set up by P&A Bottlers Private Limited, on November 3. The plant was to come up on 12 acres of forestland in Jhinkargadi. In a throwback to the Chipko movement of the 1970s, women of Balarampur village successfully thwarted the tree-felling bid by the Dhenkanal district administration on November 7 by embracing the trees.On November 17, the administration descended on the scene with hordes of police personnel and chased away the villagers who were putting up a stiff resistance to save the trees. Even then, more than 500 trees were felled.The images of women clasping the trees had then gone viral and condemnation of the police high-handedness poured in from all parts of the globe. Activists and citizens had rushed to Balarampur to give moral support to the villagers.“Although our resistance was a small one, it never lacked the determination. We welcome the Chief Minister’s decision to cancel the project. Now, we want the government to declare Jhinkargadi forest a prohibited zone for all non-forest use,” said Sushanta Kumar Dhala, Secretary, Balarampur Gramya Parichalana Parishad.Balarampur villagers, who had congregated at Jhinkargadi forest to intensify their agitation against the project, celebrated their victory on Monday by taking out a procession in the village.