Srinagar, Mar 15: Concerned over the dwindling number of chinar trees in the Kashmir valley, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today urged people and institutions to plant and safeguard this royal tree.
He said at present there were only about 40,000 chinar trees left in Kashmir of which majority were old. He said about 7000 trees were 400 years or more old while another 10,000 were 300 years old. Mr Azad planted several chinar saplingson the foreshore road, the famous Dal Lake and Kashmir university camps today, which was observed as the Chinar Plantation Day in the valley.
The Chief Minister said chinar was the prominent representation of Kashmir's cultural landscape which had come to be used as a synonym of the valley. He said there was need to plant the tree on a major scale as its numbers were dwindling.
He described the decrease in number as serious and urged people and institutions to plant chinars wherever sufficient land was available. Mr Azad said that chinar plantation was taken up simultaneously today in all the districts of the valley. The floriculture department supplied chinar saplings to all Deputy Commissioners, while on the instructions of the Chief Minister, 1000 saplings were sent to Jammu for plantation in the division.
During his interaction with the faculty, he expressed dismay over the increasing number of concrete structures in the campus and compared it with the older times when the university campus was considered as the best in the country. He called for immediate halt of further constructions on the campus upon which the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Riyaz Punjabi assured him that he would issue a notification in this regard.
Prof Punjabi told the Chief Minister that the Naseem Bagh campus of the university was being declared as a heritage site. The campus has large groves of magnificent chinars believed to have been planted by Mughal ruler, Shah Jahan, who is also said to irrigate these with milk. Dr Naqash said that as a policy matter and as per the directions of the State High Court the floriculture department was going pro-active against lopping and cutting of green chinars. He said chinar saplings were being supplied free of cost to the lovers of the glorious tree for propagation.