It hurts me as much as any other Kashmiri: Dir ERA
Srinagar: The under construction Rambagh flyover has already affected traffic, heath and economy of the city.
Now the living heritage of the city, Chinar trees, are being brutally axed. Civilians including local businessmen, artists and students staged a protest near the fallen chinars to show their anger against the move and formed human chains around the remaining chinar to protect it.
Pradip Singh Dardi, who is a local said that Kashmiris should launch a ‘chipko movement’, referring to the event that happened in India during the independence movement against the imperial British government.
However, the authorities on Saturday told Free Press Kashmir that they are well aware of how important the tree is and have planned to plant at least 10 Chinars for each that is felled.
The Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) had undertaken the Jammu and Kashmir Urban Sector Development Investment Program that includes construction of this flyover. ERA had sought the permission to cut-down 11 Chinars from the Chinar Development Board.
So far, 10 Chinars have been cut down leading to opposition from many including poets, artists and entrepreneurs from Kashmir.
Talking about the issue, Director ERA Satish Razdan said the system had to order the cutting of Chinars because the alternatives that they had tried were not feasible, leaving them with no choice.
“It is definitely our heritage. I am also concerned. I also belong to this place. It hurts me as much as it hurts any other Kashmiri,” said Razdan.
In order fill up for the damage, he said that he has asked the Chinar Development Officer of the Forest department to plant 10 or even more Chinars for each felled Chinar.
“These Chinars were also sown by people years ago. It’s a process. If we are cutting down, we are planting more.” he added.
Ensuring that the plan is official, Razdan said that the Forest Department has also sent the estimate of amount required to plant more Chinars.
“Since Darbaar is not open yet, I could not transfer the funds. On Monday, it will open and we will transfer them for the fresh plantation. The Director finance has the documentation. By Wednesday, the amount would be transferred to the Forest Department,” he said.
He also said that ERA is trying to save the 11th Chinar that is located at the junction of Tourist Reception Centre and MA Road.
“If we would have to narrow down the road at the place, we will try to save it. We won’t let anything have an impact on our heritage,” he said.