SRINAGAR: The government invests lakhs of rupees annually in Srinagar’s beautification by planting trees across the city. But each night, the efforts of the Social Forestry Department (SFD) are laid waste as these trees are routinely damaged or go missing.
This spring, the SPD will not only focus on planting trees along Srinagar’s avenues, but will have to replant a significant number that were either stolen or damaged over the past few days
The department has planted many trees, including deodars and conifers, in both uptown and downtown areas of the city, many of which were later dug up and taken.
In March, areas chosen included Karan Nagar, Dargah, Nawa Kadal, Rajouri Kadal, Nalla Mar Road, Tengpora, Railway Line etc.
“During the nights, locals uproot these trees and plant them in their homes. We face this problem every year; maximum plants are stolen from Railway Line, Nowgam,” said Farooq Ahmad, an SFD employee.
He added that if people want plants, they can buy them easily for they cost only Rs 13.50. “We have many service centres, one in HMT, Srinagar, for instance.”
As per many witnesses, people steal trees by night as the plants have no guards and become easy to filch. Sometimes the tree robbers are so emboldened they even steal in the mornings.
The tree thefts have been witnessed across most of the city with the suburbs and the Railway Lines witnessing the maximum occurrences.
District Forest Officer Ishtaq Ahmad Tangah told Kashmir Reader, “It is exceptionally disappointing that people would steal these street plantings. This is not the first time that plants have been stolen from many parks. It happens on a regular basis and it is incredibly frustrating for our gardens team to have its hard work destroyed.”
He added that if people need these plants, they will have to buy them. “We know (the community) loves to have these plants,” he said.
“I would urge people to not steal these trees. We need the community to join in for this. It is important for our whole community to be able to enjoy the wonderful shade of these plants.”