Saplings wither on city streets for lack of care

Saplings wither on city streets for lack of care

Srinagar: With the arrival of spring every year, the J&K government splurges a huge amount of money on planting trees and saplings to beautify the streets of Srinagar. On the ground, however, the saplings dry or are stolen.
Three nodal agencies are responsible for the maintenance of the saplings: the forest department, the urban forest department, and the roads and buildings department (landscape). Srinagar district forest officer Ishtiaq Ahmad Tenga said that the responsibility of maintenance and planting saplings is of the roads and buildings department (landscape). He said his department has been excluded from the work of planting saplings this year.
A junior engineer from the landscape division of Roads and Buildings department said that the department maintains trees by watering and de-weeding them, but couldn’t answer why the saplings have dried or vanished even from inside iron mesh guards.
District Forest Officer, Urban Forest department, Riyaz Gul also gave an unsatisfactory answer, saying they maintain only the stretches that fall under their jurisdiction.
“We have planted only 12,500 samplings out of which only 1,400 plants are planted on footpaths near the bypass. We have to maintain the portion of the trees in our jurisdiction. We water and de-weed them continuously,” he said.
On the ground, the picture is completely different from the claim. Trees and flowering plant saplings of different varieties planted on pavements, road dividers, or inside iron guards along streets have either dried up or the saplings that have managed to survive are in desperate need of maintenance.
The departments plant varieties including Deodar and conifers across the city, including the downtown. In the nerve centre of the city, Polo View, Maulana Azad Road and Biscoe School are sites where saplings have dried and trees guards serve as bins.
Similarly, in Soura on the 90-feet Road, and on Nallamar, plants either have dried or have been stolen, while the protective grills around many have broken down or turned into trash bins. Those plants still alive direly require maintenance while the trees have failed to grow.
“It is easy to plant trees but the main thing is the maintenance. These are not wild trees that would grow on their own,” rued a gardener responsible for upkeep of a five-kilometer stretch in Srinagar.
He blamed shortage of staff for the lack of maintenance. He said he had to perform multiple roles. “Plants have to be looked after when they are planted. Some plants need to be watered on regular intervals, and some need to be sprayed with medicines. Also, the soil around the plants has to be loosened at least once a year. But one person can’t do the entire job,” he said.
According to him, a big problem is of stealing of saplings by people in the dark of night.