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Have sought detailed report, will go for branch cutting once report is received: Div Com Kashmir
By Majid Nabi
Srinagar- Damaged and dying Chinar trees with low hanging twigs, sagging dangerously on roads in several areas of the city, that undergo major ‘facelift’ as part of the center’s Smart City mission, poses serious threat to life and property.
Dozens of such trees with branches spread across the main road from Botshah Mohalla Lal Bazar to Kanitar Saderbal have become a cause of concern for the residents living around.
One such example visible at Shalimar-Telbal Chowk speaks volumes about the civic authorities’ ‘negligence’ to wake up to the threat. Locals told Kashmir Observer that dried up Chinar tree at Shalimar-Telbal Chowk not only pose a threat to people, but also act as a stumbling block for smooth traffic movement.
They said the tree with thick trunk having occupied a major portion of the road causes frequent traffic jams in the area while its long uncarved branches have become the cause of worry for everyone including pedestrians, motorists and passengers.
“The area witness’s heavy traffic jams on a daily basis, we brought the issue into the notice of authorities but no serious efforts were made so far. This old tree, whose low hanging branches have never been carved, could prove detrimental for life and property. We appeal to the administration to wake up to the threat so as to make people heave a sigh of relief,” Naushad Ahmad, a Shalimar resident, said.
He said the government spends hundreds of crores to give Srinagar a new look under Smart City plan, however the much hyped project will be of no use until and unless the government pay serious attention to the poor condition of roads and remove all the ‘bottlenecks’ for smooth traffic movement.
“Government no doubt is desperate to develop Srinagar city on modern lines like providing low cost Wi-Fi access points, constructing smart buildings, installing smart LED street lighting; however basic facilities have always been the first priority of the people,” Abdul Rashid, a retired employee from Shalimar said.
Habak-Naseem Bagh Road which is some ten kilometers away from city center Lal Chowk is another identified place where old Chinar trees stand tall in row with low hanging branches spread on either side of the road. Locals living around said the presence of these trees causes hours-long traffic jams in the area.
An official who wish not to be named told this newspaper that the prohibitive orders in place prevents authorities to act “these are protected trees and we couldn’t touch them without permission from different departments including Chinar Development Authority and Roads and Buildings department”
He said the authorities are well aware of the issue but couldn’t act till the time proper permission either for branch cutting or permanent axing is granted.
Divisional Commissioner (Div Com) Kashmir, P.K Pole told Kashmir Observer that he has already sought a detailed report on all those Chinar trees which causes ‘inconvenience’ to the public.
“We will go for branch cutting as and when a report is received. There are a number of such dry chinar trees at other places which need attention and we will do that as well. We are also aware of dry chinar trees at Government Girls Higher Secondary School Kothibagh and we will go for their branch pruning soon,” Pole told Kashmir Observer.
When contacted Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) who also holds additional charges of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Srinagar Smart City Project, Athar Amir Khan told Kashmir Observer that the issue will be taken up with the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir at the earliest.
He was however quick to add that the Smart City mission is aimed at developing cities on modern lines and not repairing roads and removing trees as the same is the prerogative of the divisional administration.“
The issue highlighted does not come under the domain of Smart City, it is a framework, predominantly composed of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT),” he said adding, ” I will still take up the matter with concerned authorities so that issues confronting people are addressed at the earliest.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Traffic city, Muzaffar Ahmad Shah said that removing protected trees from roads or their branch cutting is done only after proper permission from the Divisional administration.
He said that he will personally look into the issue and take up the matter with the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir after proper assessment “we cannot do anything on our own but I will surely look into this issue and take up the matter with Div Com Kashmir,”
When contacted Chief Engineer Roads and Buildings (R&B), Rafiq Ahmad Rafiq told Kashmir Observer that Chinar is a protected tree and the department cannot take any action without permission from the divisional administration.
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