April 2020 News

Cutting All Russian Poplar Trees Would Be Economic, Ecological Disaster: CPI (M)

6 April 2020
Kashmir News Service

Srinagar: While reacting to J&K administration's directive to fell all female Russian poplar trees 'to contain' pollen related infections in Kashmir, CPI (M) J&K Secretary Ghulam Nabi Malik today said it would be an economic and ecological disaster which needs to be averted. A statement issued to KNS said the decision of the administration to cut all female Russian poplar trees is hasty and not based on scientific facts. Despite lakhs of poplar trees cut in previous years, the number of allergy cases has not decreased. Although a tree census has not been undertaken, estimates say there are over 15 million poplars in the state. If we cut 15 million trees, it could have a huge impact on the eco-sensitive zone. The fact is that the species were introduced by J&K Social Forestry Department in 1980's to develop greenery, cover the remaining forest land, river shores, highways and other road sides, besides providing economic benefit to the kisans and to maintain environmental balance. The species, introduced under a World Bank-aided social forestry initiative, now dominates J&K's skyline. Though there are no official figures, estimates say that the tree constitutes a third of the state's tree population. Poplar wood was cultivated in J&K to sell it for making boxes for apple packaging. The wood was also sought by pencil and plywood manufacturers outside Kashmir and this demand made it a profitable venture. Over 30 plywood factories, registered with the Directorate of Industries and Commerce, depend on wood from these trees. However, if the government is bent upon to cut all these trees, then a proper and profitable compensation must be given to the affected kissans. The government should properly purchase these trees from kissans on reasonable prices. Also the emerging trees must not be allowed to cut, otherwise it will ruin the radiant economy. It is feasible that simple pruning was enough to deal with the pollen shed by these trees. Pruning of poplar trees not only reduced the annoying cotton fluff produced by the tree, but also increased its productivity in terms of tree girth and height. The government must also provide an alternative which will be suitable for environment and profitable for the kissans, it said.