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Trees are Valuable but Human Life is Invaluable

Before fuming over the axing of poplars at Amar Singh College consider other facts
12:00 AM Apr 05, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
trees are valuable but human life is invaluable

This is in response to the write up, “Iconic Poplars Trees Axed to Death” by Dr Raja Muzafar Bhat which had appeared in the March 26, 2024 issue of Greater Kashmir. As a matter of fact, I am somehow (directly or indirectly) related to this institution and also am in know of some facts.


Therefore, I find it as my moral obligation to proffer my views before all the stake holders, with this hope that it might settle the dust to some extent which has erupted through the social media posts, videos, tweets, re-tweets etc.


Looking at the face of it, surely it gives us an impression that a blunder has been committed and the vocabulary like merciless, ruthless, remorseless, unforgiving, heinous crime, seem to weigh very light comparing the ferocity and seriousness of the issue. Myself being a nature lover and an admirer of aesthetics also get the feeling that this should not have happened.


But putting a pause on my emotions I start dwelling deep into the matter and come to the point where I get a sigh of relief that the authorities have taken the decision optimally and have chosen a lesser evil. Before making my point, I would like to give examples of two incidents to which I am (directly or indirectly) a bystander.


In the year 2023, one day at around four o’clock in the afternoon wind started blowing gently it was a closing time, every body was leaving the campus. I was working in my office, suddenly I heard a big sound of the vibrations produced by a falling tree and when I left for home, I had to go through the office of Amar Singh College where I saw a tall big poplar fallen on the single storied building of the office.


There were some people, two of whom I could recognize (Mr. Mohammad Imran and Mr. Shabir Ahmad electrician of the college) who were frightened, scared, terrified and pronouncing the sentence, “ase haz bache bal bal” - we had a narrow escape. Actually, a big poplar tree had fallen on the single storied office building where Mr. Imran was working and Mr. Shabir was working just outside.


This year in February an employee of the Cluster University (Mr. Avtar Krishan) is an eyewitness to another horrible incident (which happened in front of him); that a poplar tree suddenly fell on the electric transmission line and then on a car which got badly damaged. Mr. Krishan puts it as a matter of fortune that there was nobody in the car and the electricity was off too at that moment otherwise nobody could have saved the college from devastation.


There are some other considerations to be taken into account; the life span of a poplar tree is not too long as the Chinar (and like trees) have. The poplar also poses pollen infection though these were what we call as Kashmiri poplar, but these were having that cotton and that was floating all through campus during the season. I do agree that some beauty is lost by cutting the trees but Kashmir is a blessed place it will be regained within two-three years.

I recall here the same situation when some old aged trees were axed on the campus of University of Kashmir. There was hue and cry from every corner and quarter but see now how the campus is! So, the point I want to make is that cutting a tree is certainly a crime but restructuring, reordering the campus is a revival.

If trees are important for our environment preservation and for beautification, human life is more important, of course of paramount importance. If God forbid tomorrow a student or an employee of the college would get harmed, injured as a result of falling of a poplar who would have been responsible then. I am sure the people would flood the social media with same posts, tweets and would have put the college authorities responsible for the incident.

Here I would like to recollect my personal experience. We had a small kitchen garden in front of our house. On a small patch of the garden we had grown cabbages which looked very beautiful and added a charm to the landscape.

One day I came back from office and saw the cabbages uprooted. On seeing this I certainly got angry on my wife. But latter she served me the tasty cabbages in the dinner. Then I realized that my wife being an arts students had understood Charles Darwin better than myself being a science student.

The trees were very old and some of them were already blight and I believe that the college administration might have followed all the legal formalities before axing the trees.

Having said that, I suggest the college authorities to take as their moral obligation to organize a massive plantation derive and plant (at least) twice the number of trees which have been axed.

I also suggest Dr. Bhat to make use of his position and join hands with college authorities for plating more trees on the campus instead of knocking the doors of the institution which has recently demoralized us in the case whose digits when added up and then subtracted by ten makes nothing.

The author teaches Mathematics at JK Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Views are authors own, not of the organization he works for.

By Nisar Sultan Lone