Ecosystem on fire

KASHMIR is known for landscape beauty. We have wide variety of birds and trees including endangered species.  However due to rapid construction and rapid population explosion, these species are on the brink of extinction.

I am a jogger, and every day, like many other people, I get up every morning and take a walk between Tengpora Bridge and Bemina bridge. There was a thick canopy of trees on both sides of the pavement where I along with other people from different walks of life jogged and meditated (a concept called “forest bathing”). It relieved me of distress and anxiety caused by current circumstances (COVID-19 crises), but I was shocked that the trees on both sides in hundreds were axed in a single day and damage is still going on.

I contacted lawyers (names not disclosed) who came to my rescue and reassured me of help, and went to the actual spot. We came to know that the department of social forestry had given the permission for cutting specific trees (poplar), saying that it was harmful to a very specific group of people (asthma and allegic patients which comprise less than 1 percent of the population in kashmir ), in a specific period of time (pollen season). But that does not mean we will save one life at the cost of destroying other lives which include birds ( their progeny, nests and trees). I feel a criminal negligence with no accountability in this case. They also said that the trees were old and posed a threat to life. But as per that logic Chinar trees are the oldest which pose more threat.

A few news channels are also responsible for this mess and agony. They created mass hysteria by inviting few asthma patients daily on their show. Now general consensus is that poplar trees are harmful to all in all seasons despite contrary evidence.

Instead of pruning, cutting down branches that produce cotton (pollen), they axe entire trees, as in this case. They could also have done it in winter months or early spring so that they could plant more number of trees to maintain balance. So we can presume that the number of trees being cut is more than the number of trees being planted, creating a deficit of tree line in our ecosystem. Is there any accountability. Can we imagine the amount of damage being done to our beautiful valley, trees birds and flora and fauna.

I am afraid that if this goes on unabated, we will change our city into a desert in near future.