Poplars may be livelihood to some, but public ‘nuisance’ has to be eradicated: HC

Terms compliance reports by DCs on axing the trees as ‘unsatisfactory’, warns them against further ‘slackness’

SRINAGAR: There cannot be any substitute to safe human living if anything proves to be nuisance to it, the J&K High Court has said while rejecting the suggestion that axing poplar trees would be detrimental to those who have planted it for livelihood in the Kashmir Valley.
A bench of Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir also termed the compliance report by deputy commissioners regarding cutting down of the trees as ‘unsatisfactory’ and warned them against further slackness in complying with its directions.
The court was hearing a petition filed by one Haji Ghulam Mohidin of Srinagar, seeking directions from the court to remove the poplars adjacent to his residence at Zakura here.
As the hearing commenced, Assistant Solicitor General of India, S A Makroo, submitted that some people have planted the Russian poplars for their livelihood and if any direction was passed for their total removal, then they will face a lot of inconvenience.
“The suggestions may be genuine but there cannot be any substitute to the safe human living and if anything proves to be nuisance to the human living, then that nuisance needs to be eradicated,” the court said.
Additional advocate general informed the court that the compliance reports as have been filed by the Deputy Commissioners.
However the court found them as unsatisfactory on perusal, observing that for last six months, small numbers of the poplars have been cut to “show compliance of the order of this Court.”
“In fact, there has not been a proper drive so as to ensure implementation of the order in its letter and spirit. Cleverly, the Deputy Commissioners perhaps have submitted the reports simply to show the compliance of the Court order which in fact is not in keeping with the object and spirit of the order,” the court said underlining that the Russian poplars have created enormous difficulty and day by day are proving to be health hazard.
“The Deputy Commissioners of the Kashmir Division shall file fresh compliance report by or before next date wherein it shall be clearly indicated as to how they have proceeded in the matter for complying with the order with effect from 1 March 2016 till 25 May 2016 and from 25 May till next date of hearing,” the court said and posted the case on June 6.
“Further slackness if any exhibited by any of the Deputy Commissioners warrant personal appearance of such Deputy Commissioner or their Subordinate officers to whom they have entrusted the job, then they shall have to explain their position,” the court added.
During the course of hearing, advocate Manzoor Ahmad Dar said that he has challenged order before the Division Bench but without success.
He said liberty has been given to him to file application so as to voice his concern about the cutting of the trees. He said only female Russian poplars are shedding cotton pollen.
“If he has such expert report, he shall file same along with application,” the court added.
The Russian poplar was introduced in Kashmir in 1980s under the Social Forestry Scheme in view of its fast growth.
The cottony pollen which the plants shed for about a fortnight beginning the last week of April is one of the major sources of respiratory allergies.
Following large scale complaints against the poplars, the district administration in 2014 imposed a blanket ban on plantation of the trees in this summer capital of state.