A major tragedy was averted by sheer chance when a huge poplar from inside an army camp crashed into a three-storey house at Alucha Bagah Sunday night. The house has suffered severe damages.
"Nobody was injured as we were asleep downstairs due to winter. But the tree has caused major damage to the house and the rest of them too pose danger not just to us but to our neighbors as well, " says the house owner Muhammad Lateef Dar. The poplar is understood to have fallen due to heavy snowfall.
Even as the authorities have banned fresh plantation of poplar trees in Srinagar, the pollen-spewing trees continue to threaten public life in and around the City especially where they rub with the house walls.
The locals alleged official apathy while citing their visits to army and administrative authorities who they said had been repeatedly apprised of the dangers the trees were causing. In 2013 the then District Magistrate Farooq Ahmed Shah had imposed ban on sale, purchase and plantation of Russian poplar tree species in Srinagar.
Alucha Bagh is few hundred meters south of Civil Secretariat, neighboring a sprawling army camp that houses Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI). A government middle school is also bordering the JAKLI walls.
"At least twenty houses remain in constant danger due to these poplars. In summers we suffer allergies due to pollen these trees create and in winters we face falls like this. Also some of the trees are decayed and recurrently threaten our lives," Lateef adds.
The locals have appealed both army and civil authorities to axe the dangerous poplars which serve no purpose to the camp because it is appropriately walled.
"We don't know what for the army needs poplars. The camp is perfectly walled and the wall is topped with barbed wire… At least four hundred children stay in the school which also falls in the range of poplars lining the camp wall. If the army claims it is here to protect us there is no point in endangering our lives by stubbornly refusing a petty issue of cutting down few poplars," says Naseer Ahmad, another affected resident from the area.
District Development Commissioner Farooq Ahmed Lone said the matter would be looked into.