Panel Submits Report On Poplar Cutting, Govt ‘Examining’  


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Srinagar: A committee, to examine all aspects relating to the Russian Poplar trees including the impact of the pollen and fluff from these trees on the spread of the novel coronavirus, has submitted its report, government had informed the J&K High Court.

“The committee’s report is being considered by the authorities,” submitted Amit Gupta, Additional Advocate General representing the J&K government before a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Rajnesh Oswal.

“Let the decision be taken in terms of our order dated 10th April 2020 and placed before us before the next date of hearing,” the court said and posted the matter on May 20.

Headed by Dr. Mohit Gera (IFS), Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and HoFF, the members o panel included Farooq Ahmad Gillani (Chief Conservator of Forests, Kashmir), Dr. Mushtaq Siddiqi (Vice-Chancellor, Islamic University of Science & Technology), Dr. Naveed Nazir Shah (HoD, Pulmonary Medicine, Government Medical College, Srinagar), Zubair Ahmad Shah (Conservator of Forests, Srinagar), Dr. Tariq. H. Masoodi (Dean, Department of Forestry, SKUAST, Kashmir) and Mehraj-ud-din Malik (Regional Director, Social Forestry, Kashmir).

The Chairman of the Committee was also authorized to co-opt any other expert(s) in its deliberations.

The panel was formed following the Court’s order on April 10 last, directing the Chief Secretary to constitute it to examine the impact of the pollen and fluff from the poplar trees and the desirability of felling poplar trees amid coronavirus pandemic.

The court had passed the orders days after almost all deputy commissioners in Kashmir ordered axing of the “female” poplar trees.

“Significantly a grave error is pointed out which is to the effect that female poplar trees have been directed by the authorities to be felled on account of the “pollen” generated by them. This by itself is a basic mistake,” the court had observed.

“Pollen is generated by the male of the specie and not by the female tree. Therefore felling of the female of the Species would not have any impact,” the court had said.

It was also pointed out, the court observed, that the fluff carries the seed and not pollen.

“The two reports brought to our notice by refer to views of several experts doubting the correctness of the statement that the fluff generated by the poplars could be effecting respiratory diseases or would impact spread of the COVID-19 infection,” the court had observed, adding, “The Committee which is constituted would examine all aspects relating to the matter including the impact of the pollen and fluff from the poplar trees, the desirability of felling poplar trees (also called Russian Poplar) and related issues.

The Committee, the court had said, shall suggest all necessary steps, including felling of trees, if necessary. “The Committee shall complete its deliberations expeditiously within a time frame to be fixed allotted by the Chief Secretary. Its report shall be forwarded to the Secretaries of the Departments of Health and Medical Education as well as Forests.”

The Secretaries, Health and Forest Departments have been directed by the court to take a considered view on the committee’s report and place the same before the Chief Secretary for consideration at the earliest. “The final recommendations shall be placed before us at the earliest (now on May 20),” the court added. (GNS)


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