Authorities restart axing Chinars for grade separator

11 more Chinars to be felled between MA Road- Radio Kashmir stretch

Throwing environmental norms to wind, authorities have once again started axing Chinars between Radio Kashmir junction and MA Road for constructing the grade separator on this stretch.
Pertinently, axing Chinars to pave way for the grade separator earlier this year was stopped following massive public outcry. Authorities had planned to axe 11 Chinars on the stretch out which seven were felled earlier in January while rest are being axed now. The felling of Chinars has been entrusted to Forest department.
Director, JK Economic Reconstruction Agency ( ERA) Satish Razdan said axing of Chinars was being undertaken on the orders of District Administration. “We explored several alternatives which could save the Chinars but could not find any.”
“Presence of a masjid, TRC ground, kiosks, and tourist taxi stand prevents us from implementing these alternatives and we are left with no option but to fell these Chinars,” Razdan said.
Razdan said in order to avoid axing of Chinar, land acquisition in large quantity is required. “This is an impossible task considering the layout of the area. We are trying to save one of the Chinars but cannot help but to fell rest of the 10 Chinars. ERA is compensating the Chinar Development Officer with an amount that can help to plant hundreds of Chinars,” Razdan said.
Pertinently, during construction of grade separator between Radio Kashmir and Old Zero Bridge, ERA desisted from felling more than 100-year-old Chinar trees. “We procured land from Tourism department and saved the Chinars which we will beautify as buffer zones soon. Cutting trees is our last option in any of the construction work and we show utmost care for Chinar,” Razdan added.
Deputy Commisioner, Srinagar Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone did not respond to several calls.
Meanwhile, according to a 2016 census carried out by Floriculture Department, 6398 Chinar trees are present in the city out of which 178 are semi-dry while 664 Chinars are dry and face a threat to fell. The number of live Chinars in the city according to the census is 6398.
However, Chinar experts and activists say it is the “poor aeration” due to concretization and lack of attention from authorities which results in falling of Chinars. “Even in case of Chinars that are not axed, road building and widening causes much damage and many trees end up standing within an asphalt surface wherever such widening or construction takes place,” an expert said.
As the incidents of Chinar falling have been recently on a rise in the summer capital, Chinar experts and activists say concretisation and lack of proper treatment by the authorities to Chinars is posing a threat especially for the 664 dry Chinars present in the summer capital.

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