Expert Committee to suggest measures to address flying cotton problem

SRINAGAR: Minister for Horticulture, Syed Basharat Bukhari today called for tangible measures to tackle cotton (fluffy) pollutants shed by poplars in Kashmir during their pollination season which has become a source of health hazard in the region. The Minister said this while chairing a meeting of experts and concerned officials regarding short and long-term measures needed to be taken to tackle the menace of cotton pollutants.
Experts apprised the Minister that poplar locally known as ‘Fras’, is one of the ten prominent trees planted in Kashmir which generates revenue of Rs 600 crore annually, besides fulfilling the demand of ten lake fruit boxes annually required to transport horticulture industry produce.
It was given out that the cotton menace has become severe during last few years. As per the study conducted by SKUAST, poplars produce (fluffy) seed that acts as a pollutant in the atmosphere and hamper the normal life in rural and urban area of Kashmir region.
The Minister was informed that planting fast-growing male clones of poplars and gradual removal of female poplars need to be undertaken on a massive scale to arrest the problem of cotton shedding which impacts health.
Other methods to overcome the menace which include short rotation forestry, establishment of wood-based industrial units of juvenile trees, heavy lopping in dormant season, regular pruning in late autumn, besides banning uncertified poplar nurseries were also suggested in the meeting.
On the occasion, the Minister directed that SKUAST-Kashmir identify male clones of poplars, besides introducing sterile hybrids to overcome cotton and pollen menace in Kashmir. He directed for constituting a committee, comprising Director Horticulture Planning and Management, Director Social Forestay, Director Enterprise Development Institute, Dean Department of Forestry SKUAST and Scientists of Environment and Remote Sensing Department, which will submit a report having long and short-term measures needed to tackle cotton menace in Kashmir.
The Minister asked the concerned Chief Horticulture Officers to submit a detailed data report regarding the number of poplars trees and nurseries present in the region, besides called for removing poplars from Karewas to avoid its ill effects on orchards.
Bukhari directed the concerned for checking out statues of unauthorized poplar nurseries, besides taking initiatives for mass awareness among farmers regarding proper and harmless plantation of trees.