Headed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF) , the Commission has been tasked to formulate a policy.
Opinion is split over the felling of the trees with some experts contending that the axing is without any sound scientific basis and that there was need for a proper cost-benefit analysis.
Others, mainly pulmonologists, stress on cutting the female trees, considering the allergies the poplars allegedly trigger in the Valley during late spring.
In 2015, the High Court had observed that it was a “common knowledge that pollen seeds of poplars of Russian species adversely affect health of the general public, mostly of elderly people and children and that the pollen seeds of these trees had given rise to chest diseases in the valley.
The top court of J&K and Ladakh had thus ordered the non-native poplar’s eradication from Kashmir. However as the things stand, the order was largely observed in breach. One of the theories doing rounds about the non-compliance of the orders is linked to a mafia associated with pharmaceutical companies dealing the medicine that treats patients afflicted with allergies with symptoms ranging from congestion, runny or itchy nose, sneezing.
The commission needs to look into all aspects including measures needed to eradicate annual menace due to the female Russian poplars in the Valley. It should see whether only potentially dangerous species ought to be cut or any other measures required to prevent the nuisance, especially during late spring season.
The commission needs to see healthy effects on the economy, environment and reduction of pressure on the valuable forests due to poplar trees. The annual quantum of poplars being used in fruit industry, building constructions, Plywood industries, furniture industry on a conservative scale is huge. Also thousands of people depend, directly or indirectly, for their livelihood. The Commission should see if there was a need to plant more poplars so that this industry sustains for a long time. Plantation is without doubt always a good move to combat, among others, global warming. Poplars besides benefits of revenue generation also are useful in carbon sequestration, ecological wastewater treatment systems, stream bank stabilisation, soil building, biofiltration, soil erosion control, etc. There is a need to value the importance of poplars in terms of environment cleaning and economical value.