‘Committed to preserving college’s legacy; massive plantation drive in April’

Srinagar, Mar 22: Amar Singh College on Friday clarified the circumstances surrounding the felling of trees on the campus, saying the decision to remove the “aged” trees was made with student safety as the top priority. It also said that the tree auction conducted by the Forest Development Corporation led to the cutting of Willow/Robina and poplar trees under due process of law.

Expressing concern over the sentiments expressed on social media regarding the felling of the green avenue of the college, the college administration in a statement issued to the news agency said it was necessary to address “misinformation” and provide clarity on the matter.

The administration cited the aftermath of the 2014 floods in Kashmir, during which the college was submerged for an extended period, resulting in severe damage to both infrastructure and trees. “The weakened trees became prone to uprooting during minor windstorms, posing significant safety risks to students, visitors, and staff. Numerous complaints regarding safety and health concerns were documented by the college administration, necessitating urgent action,” it said.

The college said the process to address the safety challenges posed by the trees began in 2018-19 when the matter was taken up with the Social Forestry Department.

Subsequently, an open auction notice was issued by the J&K State Forest Corporation for the cutting of 202 poplar trees within the campus. However, the bidding process faced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the aged and weakened trees to continue posing safety threats.

According to the statement, the community members and district authorities had also expressed concerns about the potential dangers posed by the trees. It said that specific instances of trees falling during windstorms further highlighted the urgency of the situation.

While acknowledging the concerns raised by civil society, the college administration reiterated its commitment to creating a green, sustainable and safe environment for students.

It said a massive plantation drive of 500 conifer and other trees is planned for April to increase the green cover on campus, adding that measures such as the establishment of micro forest clusters aim to improve air quality and environmental health.

The administration assured stakeholders of its continued dedication to preserving the legacy of Amar Singh College while undertaking substantial measures for its enhancement, including the construction of a see-through gate and a modern fountain.

“We earnestly request everyone to please rest your faith in our efforts that remain devoted to the betterment of this institution. We realise that change may often seem awkward or intimidating but we must also acknowledge that those who look only to the past are certain to miss the future,” the college said.(KNO)