Russian Poplar Nuisance: Authorities Look For Miracle Overnight

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Srinagar: Having failed for over a year in compliance of the High Court orders seeking chopping down of the pollen-spewing Russain poplars across Kashmir, the divisional administration looks ahead for a miracle overnight.
Barely a day ahead of the May 20 deadline for the government to file compliance report before the High Court, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon on Thursday called a high level meeting, directing the concerned to act against the menacing trees on “war-footing.”
An official handout on May 19, said: “To stem the rising rate of allergy and infection due to pollens released by female species of Russian Poplars, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Dr Asghar Hassan Samoon today ordered the removal of all such trees across the valley on war footing basis.”
“The Divisional Commissioner received latest update from the Deputy Commissioners of various districts through video conferencing about the numbers of the Russian Poplars present in their jurisdiction and steps being taken to remove them,” the handout added.
Dr Samoon directed the officers to ensure removal of these poplars from all government and non government land including hospitals, educational institutions, offices and other places on priority basis.
While the government is scheduled to file the compliance report latest by today, the people are yet to feel any respite from the allergic pollen, which fills the air in this part of the season, leaving scores of people ill.
Earlier this week, a day after the High Court sought compliance report, 92.7 Big FM, a popular radio channel here aired special morning program on the issue. The Big Khabar hosted by RJ Nasir remained flooded with phone-in complaints from across Kashmir that the pollen has made their lives miserable, while the government has failed to act.
The people have been accusing the administration of being hand-in-glove with the people who have planted Russain poplars. “Leave apart isolated trees, in our locality two full-fledged nurseries of Russain poplars  have come up in the recent past and the Budgam administration miserably failed to act because growers happen to be influential businessmen,” complained a delegation of locals from Sir Syed Avenue-A, Pir Bagh.
On May 15, observing that poplars of Russian species are public nuisance, the High Court sought compliance of its orders on their chopping in Kashmir.
“All the Deputy Commissioners of the valley, at the first instance, are required to file the compliance report by or before May 20, 2016,” a bench of Justice Muhammad Yaqoob Mir said in its order.
The bench observed: “Enormous plantation and growth of poplar trees of Russian Species are allegedly proving catastrophic and a big health hazard. Can such a nuisance be allowed to exist totally to the discomfort of the human beings? Answer has to be no.”
The court observed that the “trees which are proving dangerous and threat to the healthy life can be categorized as being public nuisance.”
“People are voicing concern against the violent and allergic affects of poplar seeds as the cottony pollen has created panic and has made the living of human beings, more particularly of the elders and the children uncomfortable,” the bench said adding that due to alleged pollen allergy all the elderly people and children are coughing.
Earlier on June 5, 2015, the Court directed Deputy Commissioners of the Valley and Tehsildars concerned to implement the order dated 12-05-2015 without any further delay.
Prior to the High Court intervention into the matter, in 2013, the then District Commissioner, Srinagar, Farooq Ahmed Shah had banned any new plantation of Russian poplars in the City even as he had sought felling down of the existing trees in a time-bound manner. Though Shah was widely hailed for the “historic orders”, three years on since, implementation is awaited.
Meanwhile, the people have prayed before the High Court, to pull up the concerned for failure in getting rid of the nuisance, which is taking toll on human health. “Officials should not restrict their work to statements, they are bound to show performance in the field, which in this case is altogether missing. Only judicial intervention of honorable High Court can help us out,” prayed Ehsaas Foundation, a humanitarian group.

 

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