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Cutting of Willow/ Robina & Poplar trees done under due process of law: Amar Singh College Administration

 Cutting of Willow/ Robina & Poplar trees done under due process of law: Amar Singh College Administration

Second line of plants already been planted in time; committed to creating a green, sustainable & safe environment for our students

Srinagar, March 22 (GNS): The Amar Singh College Authorities today clarified that recently tree auction was conducted by the Forest Development Corporation within the College premises and consequent upon that cutting of Willow/ Robina and Poplar trees was done under due process of law.

The clarification was issued after the College Authorities faced severe criticism on the issue with several people expressing their concern regarding the felling of green avenue of college on social media. Due to this, the college administration came across lot of lapses and misinformation circulating on the social media regarding the issue.

 Divulging the details, it was given out that during 2014 floods in Kashmir the institution remained immersed in water for a long duration of time. The deluge not only damaged the infrastructure but also weekend the trees severally. The trees started uprooting in minor windstorms and causing damage to the surrounding structures and began to pose grave safety concern for the students, visitors and staff.

Several grievances regarding safety and health concerns were received by the college administration during this period and are well documented in the college records. These complaints underscored the urgent need for then administration to address the safety challenges posed by the poplar trees. The matter was taken up with Social Forestry Department in 2018-19 by then college authorities and the trees were numbered by the concerned department and put to auction by the J&K State Forest Corporation vide an Open Auction Notice No. 499-510/CGM/N/SFC/S, Dated: 29/05/2019.

This notice issued by General Manager North J&K Forest Corporation sought bids for the cutting of 202 poplar trees within the campus. The notice listed 15 locations for auction and Amar Singh College figured as 10th location in said open auction bid list.

The bidding process was hampered due to lockdown and subsequent restrictions during Covid-19 Pandemic. With the postponement of the process, the aged and weakened trees within the Amar Singh College campus continued to pose grave safety threats. Over the last few years, the campus witnessed a number of instances where trees got uprooted, highlighting the persistent danger they posed to the safety and well-being of the college community.

The community members living in the vicinity of college complained a number of times about the potential threat caused by these aged trees and also represented their grievances before the district administration. The college also received the communication from Nodal officer Grievance cell under the reference no: DCS/SDM/GRIEV/19/1259-62, dated: 10-05-2019, asking the college administration to take cognizance of a grievance on LG Grievance portal regarding the health-related problems caused by the pollen seeds from the poplars.

 Also, there were specific instances with in the college where the big trees fell in the campus during wind storms, fortunately after office hours, which contained the extent of damage.

Typically, a poplar tree has a life span of around 50 years the poplars on the avenue had already crossed the 60 years as the trees were planted in 1965.

These factors forced the institution to take this extraordinary measure. However, it is pertinent to mention that the second line of plants had already been planted in time from the main gate to the Heritage Building in tree guards installed by social forestry department in 2018-19. The initiative was taken to compensate for the felled trees; indicative of imminent cutting of poplars on the avenue during the period they were put to auction by Forest Development Corporation in 2019.

'We deeply appreciate the concerns expressed by civil society regarding the campus. We want to reassure everyone that we are fully committed to creating a green, sustainable, and safe environment for our students. The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and visitors are our top priorities" read the official statement.

Amar Singh College is renowned for its rich trees and plantations across its campus. Particularly, the area around the New Block to the Geology department consists of a rich diversity of trees and plants.

"In line with our commitment to increase green cover in campus we have already notified a massive plantation drive of 500 conifer and other trees in the month of April. The college is establishing a micro forest-clusters, within its campus to serve as vital "aeration lungs," contributing to improved air quality and environmental health on campus", the statement further read.

Since student safety is of paramount importance, the difficult decision to remove these aged trees was made. This action not only safeguards the students, but also protects property around the campus.

It is imperative to emphasize that the Amar Singh College administration remains deeply committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of its students, faculty, and visitors. We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of all stakeholders during this process.

"We are committed to preserve the legacy of Amar Singh College and substantial measures in that direction have been undertaken. The construction of a see-through gate is underway to offer public the unobstructed view of the heritage building, along with this enhancement we are integrating a modern state of the art fountain to augment aesthetic appeal of the institution to create a welcoming atmosphere for visitors", the statement also mentioned.(GNS)

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