Menace of Russian Poplars

Environmental issues  are there everywhere. But the Valley, known for its moderate and fascinating climate, would attract tourists from all over the world, is also facing an environmental crisis – with multiple pollution and climatic problem, writes the daily Rising Kashmir editorially. The latest crisis has been created by Russian poplars. The pollen of these poplars seemed to have caused different allergies and chest-related disorders. Moreover these (pollen) are highly inflammable. It seems we should revert to local varieties of poplar. There is need to stop fresh plantation of Russian poplars. A proper strategy is needed for mass cutting of Russian poplars.



The Crisis:

“Environmental issues have evoked tremendous concern among environmentalists across the globe. World is about to suffer calamitous situations if the rate of growing pollution levels are not checked in time. Different kinds of environmental hazards have hit the life across the globe. And our valley is not an exception to it. Kashmir valley was once known for its moderate and fascinating climate across the globe. It would attract tourists to visit for its beautiful landscapes and alluring climate. But now, it is caught up in deadly environmental crisis. From air pollution to noise pollution, the valley is brimming with multiple climatic problems. The clutches of global warming have clenched the delicate environs of our valley very badly. Many drastic climatic catastrophes have taken toll of our fragile environment. Every now and then, we face one or the other environmental issues in our part of globe.  With the growing environmental concerns in our valley, Russian poplars have given birth to a new kind of pollution that has turned this summer into mayhem. Yes, I am talking about the pollen of these poplars which are assuming dangerous proportions. From villages to cities, people of all the shades of life are falling prey to its pangs and health hazards. It has affected the lives of the people very badly at large. From different allergies and other chest related disorders, this pollen has taken toll on our smooth living. Children, senior citizens, women, even youngsters taste its rage. People hardly dare to open their windows as this cotton like substance sneaks into the rooms and houses. It is extremely difficult to broom it out. Lawns and courtyards of houses are covered with a white layer, and it is impossible for people to sit down in the lawns and parks as it sticks to clothes”.

The Impact of Pollen:

“This pollen is seen as a thin white layer at many places as if it has snowed. Besides being extremely harmful to human beings in terms of causing allergies and fevers, it makes our property susceptible to dangerous fires as it is highly inflammable. Any spark of fire or a half burnt cigarette bit can cause huge destruction to our property. Even Children are exceedingly vulnerable to suffer fire related accidents when playing with match sticks outside their homes.  Parents should ensure that lighters and match boxes are kept out of the reach of children particularly during these two or three months when pollen is scattered like cotton.

Some decades earlier, we had some local species of poplars which besides being eco-friendly were innocuous. These local poplars were preferred for constructional purposes as well because their durability and strength was known and proven. Such species have gone extinct or are about to disappear. One may wonder to ask; is it our carelessness, our poor knowledge about the ills of Russian poplars or is it a conspiracy? Many queries and questions pop into one’s mind. It is wonder striking to know that how our administrative machinery had allowed the import of these species into our valley some four or five decades earlier. It is known to all that any new plant species is imported after it goes through trials at our premier Alma mater of SKUAST Srinagar. Since we have been engulfed by it, therefore we need to look for alternatives and remedies to minimize its effects. Common masses must stop its further plantation. But the scenario is somewhat different. Besides its proven drastic effects and consequences, people continue with its plantation. Farmers grow nurseries of this species in order to earn huge profits. Our markets are flooded with these poplars in the early spring, and these poplars sell like hot cakes. We should not leave it entirely to our administration as well. We too have some responsibilities. We should play our part as a sensitive citizen because administration is sure to fail if its citizens are consciously dead and dormant.”

The Urgent Need:

“The onus is now on our government. For last couple of years, our administration is trying to take immediate steps to get people rid of this menace completely. Even this year, some district heads had promised to clear all the pollen shedding poplars but we are yet to see any pragmatic steps being taken. These official promises have proven a hoax. Why our government is failing to come up with a mechanism to deal with this growing environmental calamity? Is government non-serious about this growing concern which has hit everyone irrespective of rich and poor or is government just resorting to rhetoric. We can’t rule out any possibility. Let us hope that our government is serious enough to resolve this issue as soon as possible for the sake of common good of the general public. Another important question that strikes our minds is how would the mass chopping of these poplar trees will affect our environment? Our valley which is already facing the tantrums of global warming can face a drastic environmental crisis, if all the Russian poplars are chopped down. It will certainly give rise to new calamity. We, our environmentalists and scientists need to devise a robust strategy. We need a long term plan to deal with this environmental menace. Efforts must be made to plant new trees on large scale before axing the old ones. Let us hope the menace is curbed well in time”.


[Courtesy :Daily  Rising Kashmir, Srinagar, Kashmir, June 08, 2019].


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