Baramulla: Despite clear orders from the government to cut Russian poplars across Kashmir, the revenue and social forestry departments have failed to check the growth and plantation of the cotton-shedding trees in Baramulla district.
Source of anxiety, irritation and diseases in summers, the poplars, locally called Rusi Phress, continue to dot the roads and landscape of north Kashmir’s Baramulla, Sopore, Kunzar, Rafiabad, Sangrama, Patten, Handwara, Kupwara and Bandipora.
Sneezing, coughing and complaints of throat irritation and fever have become common these days, with people complaining of anxiety and allergy.
Students and older people are compelled to wear masks to prevent allergic infections. It also causes skin diseases.
The Russian poplar became famous in Valley during eighties when the species was imported from United States of America and introduced in Kashmir in 1982. Because of its quick growth, as it takes only 14 to 18 years to grow into a huge size and girth compared to Kashmiri Poplar (Kashur Phrass) which takes at least 30 to 35 years, Russian poplars became a household specie in valley. For its high yield, these poplars is used as a raw material for plywood factories and allied business like preparing wooden boxes for apple packing and roof of houses etc.
The name Russian poplar ( Russi Phrass) is a misnomer term and has nothing to do with Russia.
As the summer season sets on every year, the female poplar called (populous deltoids) bear cotton-like substance and is blown off by winds causing allergy and aggravate respiratory disorders.
“The cotton bear by Russian poplars is causing allergies, running nose, eye problems,” said a doctor from Baramulla.