Tree Matters

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Shakir Mir

The arrival of spring not only brings cheers to the winter-weary public but also crisis. This we can say against the backdrop of a spurt in the pollen related health problems. The release of pollen by the Poplar trees has been a scourge for a very long time.

It has not only afflicted the public with chronic health problems but also become a nuisance. The pollens and cottony seeds remain suspended in the air and are swept here and there getting into the eyes of commuters and even making way into their mouths.

Very little action has been taken so far to curb this menace which continues to occur year after year. Often in their rush to assuage the public outcry, administration including the judiciary has called for a gratuitous tree felling.

In its order of May 5, 2015, the High Court had said that Tehsildars concerned would be personally responsible for ensuring compliance of orders passed by the Deputy Commissioners with regard to removal of the Poplars of Russian species across Kashmir.

The Court underlined the need for chopping Russian species of Poplars by observing that the “health of general public is of paramount importance than interest of individuals who plant Poplar trees.

Undoubtedly! But is felling the only option to get rid of the pollen-induced allergies? Environmental experts across the spectrum have opposed the decision tooth and nail. Their contention is that why go for wanton cutting when the culprits are the female poplars? Russian poplars undergo sexual reproduction.

With the advent of spring the female poplars shed the cotton seeds that are the actual source of diseases. Activists have called upon these female Poplars to be selectively identified and pruned, if not fully cut down, to prevent the release of seeds during spring.

The step will not only maintain the tree cover but also alleviate the risks that the seed-shedding entails. If humans are needed to be taken care of, so are trees.

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