Iconic poplar avenue at Amar Singh College axed; people fume

View of Amar Singh College entrance after felling of trees. -Excelsior/Shakeel
View of Amar Singh College entrance after felling of trees.

Over 230 trees axed across campus

Irfan Tramboo
SRINAGAR, Mar 22: The iconic and spectacular poplar avenue of Amar Singh College, which until recently presented a serene appearance, now appears barren and destroyed due to the felling of scores of poplar trees.
Nearly 230 trees have been axed down across the entire college campus, with most of them coming from the avenue leading from the entrance to the college building.
These trees, which lined both sides of the entry road leading to the historic college building, once enhanced its beauty and contributed to the serenity of the campus.
It is to be noted here that the felling of these trees came to light when some college students and alumni shared pictures of the chopped trees, sparking sharp criticism online.
Daniya Qadri, one of the alumni, expressed her dismay by sharing a picture of the fallen trees, asking, “What’s more hurtful than this?”
It has been reported that the college is undergoing a makeover with several developmental works planned. However, even students currently enrolled expressed discomfort with the tree felling.
It is noteworthy that Amar Singh College is one of the oldest colleges in Kashmir, established over a century ago and is known for heritage, especially the restoration work of the college building done after the 2014 floods.
The scenic college campus has also attracted various film crews for shooting way back in the 90s as well as recently.
Hakim Sameer Hamdani, an architectural historian and Design Director at INTACH Kashmir, also voiced his anger, stating, “First, they constructed a high masonry wall, when the plain chain-link fence was transparent and aesthetically pleasing. Now this disaster; I wish someone would be held accountable for this act of vandalism. How could they do away with the poplar avenue?”
Former Mayor of Srinagar, Junaid Azim Mattu, echoed the sentiment, describing the chopping of the trees as a “sad spectacle.”
He criticized the decision-maker, stating, “The person who made this decision is extremely ill-suited to be involved even remotely with an educational institution. What an absolutely sad, sad spectacle. Tragic!”
Another student-who is currently enrolled-said that the axing of years-old poplar trees had become the identity of the college and that it “pains” to see them chopped into logs.
“I don’t know why they have done this, but this is really painful; the early morning view of these trees was nothing but pure bliss, but that’s gone now,” he said.
Meanwhile, following an online uproar, the college issued a statement: “Over the last few years, the campus has witnessed numerous instances of trees being uprooted, underscoring the persistent danger they pose to the safety and well-being of the college community.”
The college clarified that typically, a poplar tree has a lifespan of around 50 years, and the poplars on the avenue had already exceeded 60 years since they were planted in 1965.
It further stated: “Community members living in the vicinity of the college have complained numerous times about the potential threat posed by these aging trees and have also brought their grievances to the attention of the district administration. Additionally, the college received communication from the Nodal Officer of the Grievance Cell, requesting the college administration to address grievances regarding health-related problems caused by the pollen seeds from the poplars.”
The college added that in line with its commitment to increasing the green cover on campus, it has already announced a massive plantation drive of 500 conifer and other trees scheduled for the month of April.
“The college is establishing micro-forest clusters within its campus to serve as vital ‘aeration lungs,’ contributing to improved air quality and environmental health on campus.”

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