For the North South highway construction, the previous government in Jammu and Kashmir has chopped down hundreds of majestic chinars with the experts sounding alert that after two decades, valley would be without such glorious trees
According to KNS, during the past six years, hundreds of age old chinars were cut during the construction of highway in North and South Kashmir. In Islamabad (Anantnag) district of Kashmir valley, 33 chinar trees were coming under the alignment during the highway construction, out of which 18 tress have been fallen down. In Pulwama district the government of Jammu and Kashmir has permitted to fell down 58 chinar trees.
The state authorities here had at that time stated that the permission for chopping down majestic Kashmiri Chinars (Platanus Orientalis Kashmiriania), locally called ‘Bouin’, was granted purely in the ‘public interest’ and on the request of the project director, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Srinagar as according to the government, ‘the trees were creating hindrance in the smooth execution of the work on national highway’.
In Pulwama area the assessment was made by a committee comprising district floriculture officer, chief horticulture officer, sericulture development officer and range officer. An amount of rupees 20, 84, 800 assessed by the committee as timber value of the tress was deposited by NHAI in the concerned treasuries. In Islamabad (Anantnag) district, the quantity of timber was 5924 Cfts and wood 471 Quanitls. The project director NHAI has deposited an amount of rupees 24, 63, 8000 towards compensation in favor of Roads and Buildings Anantnag as timber value of 18 felled chinars.
The state authorities informed further that the director floriculture Kashmir has been asked by the divisional administration to provide saplings of chinar for the plantation on the either side of the highway.
The number of this majestic tree of Kashmir is declining due to continuous felling for road-widening and other developmental projects. According to government data, in 2007 there were 38,401 of the trees in valley but environmentalists claim that the number much less than what the government is claiming.
Interestingly the former chief conservator of forests Mohammad Sultan Wadoo in his book published in the year 2007 titled, “The Trees Of Our Heritage” stated that there are 17,124 chinars in Kashmir and 746 are cut every year. He had remarked further that if such process continues, valley will be without chinars in 22 years.