While govt awaits tenders, poplar trees in Bemina college cause allergies and infections

While govt awaits tenders, poplar trees in Bemina college cause allergies and infections

Srinagar: The J&K government has failed to abide by High Court orders to cut down Russian poplar trees, leaving a huge population in the Valley susceptible to acute pollen allergy.
In spring, the female poplar trees release pollen that accumulates in the form of white, fluffy clouds resembling cotton balls, a major cause for multiple allergies such as running nose and chest infections, eye allergies and skin rashes. This chronic problem was dealt with by the High Court by ordering large-scale felling of poplar trees in 2015.
On the ground, however, hundreds of poplar trees have not been axed. To cite an example, the Government Degree College Bemina has nearly 450 such trees in its premises, causing problems to students as well as to people living in the neighbourhood. Students, college authorities, and locals all complain of the huge menace caused by the pollen.
The problem appears acute in the college as almost all students cover their faces with black masks in this season. Many of the female students use their dupattas to protect themselves from the pollen. A group of students wearing masks complained that they suffer from throat infection, fever and cold because of the pollen emanating from poplar trees. “We have to wear face masks to avoid these irritant pollens,” they said.
A senior official of the college corroborated the complaints, but said that repeated pleas before government officials have fallen on deaf ears. Expressing helplessness, the official said, “The college authorities cannot cut down these trees on their own, as the college comes under the Higher Education department.”
“These poplars create problem for everyone in the campus,” said the official. “We have sent them letters many a time for this purpose and now they (the higher education department) say they have forwarded them to the state forest department.”
The college has completed the requisite formalities for axing the trees, but the forest department hasn’t found any contractor for the work, so far.
“Until now, the department is yet to find any bidder, which is the main reason they are not cutting down the trees,” the official added.
A forest department official, requesting anonymity, said that no response has comes as yet to the tenders floated two months ago, and now the tenders have been floated again to cut down the trees.
Residents living in surrounding areas of the college said they have to suffer chronic allergies every year. In March, they said, they submitted an application to the Deputy Commissioner Srinagar for felling of the trees, but to no avail.
“Until now, nothing has happened to our plea,” a resident told Kashmir Reader. He said that school-going children are mostly afflicted with throat infection and fever because of the allergy.
Doctors at the Chest Diseases Hospital in Srinagar said that they see an almost 80 percent surge in patients suffering from respiratory infections and allergy caused by pollen in spring season every year.