HC Stays Poplar Axing, Directs For Constitution Of A Committee

Srinagar

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court have directed J&K chief secretary to constitute a committee within four days to examine the impact of the pollen and fluff from the poplar trees and the desirability of felling poplar trees amid coronavirus pandemic.

A division bench of Justices Gita Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal passed the orders days after almost all deputy commissioners in Kashmir ordered axing of the “female” poplar trees.

The order also followed submissions by the government that its health department has sought suggestions from principals of government medical colleges in Jammu and Srinagar amid contentions that the pollens from the particular specie of these trees could be potential carriers of coronavirus and can aggravate the pandemic in the Valley.

Also, a one Habeel Iqbal, a lawyer from Shopian, flagged concern that the indiscriminate felling of the trees, reported to be in several thousands, has a severe adverse economic and ecological impact, which may be irreversible. The court also perused some media reports, pointing out very pertinent issues.

Unpopular Poplars

“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 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 said.

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

“The two reports brought to our notice by (advocate) Iqbal 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 observed and directed the Chief Secretary to constitute a committee headed by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and other experts on trees, medicine, respiratory diseases and other subjects relevant to the issue.

Axing Notorious Poplars

“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 court said, according to Global News Agency. “The Committee shall suggest all necessary steps, including felling of trees, if necessary,” the court said, adding, “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 shall thereafter take a considered view on the report of the Committee and place the same before the Chief Secretary for consideration at the earliest, the court said, adding, “The final recommendations shall be placed before us at the earliest.”

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