Srinagar, April 4 (GNS): Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the government to examine if the pollens from poplar trees can aggravate the COVID-19 disease and undertake immediate remedial action if it happens to correlate with it.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal passed the direction after hearing an application filed by advocate Shafqat Nazir.
“It is submitted that this pollen remains in air for between 25-30 days and creates havoc so far as respiratory diseases are concerned. Mr. Nazir submits that this pollen may have the potential to hold the COVID-19 virus and resulted in aggravation of the spread of this infection as well,” said the bench also comprising Justice Rajnesh Oswal.
“Let this aspect be examined by the Secretary, Health and Medical Education, and, if the impact as suggested is correct, immediate remedial action be taken,” the court added.
In the application, the lawyer has sought direction to the authorities to fell a particular breed of poplars across the Valley.
“There is a menace of a particular breed of poplar trees (commonly known as Russian poplars, though a misnomer) in J&K, particularly Kashmir valley which produces pollen, seeds with lot of cotton fluff, seed hairs which has become a seasonal health hazard,” Nazir says. The pollen along with the cotton fluff gets off the trees from last week of April thereby dispersing throughout the area within the range of more than 500 meters, affecting health of people mostly elderly and children.
The pollen with cotton fluff can be seen in air, ground, water bodies, cars, homes and almost everywhere.
“Poplar is a fast growing, weak wooded tree that lacks ornamental flowers and fruits. The experts have identified a particular female variety of poplar trees with botanical name ‘Populus deltoides’ that produces pollen with lot of seed hairs, fluff which is highly allergenic,” he told Global News Agency.
The pollen and seed hairs besides being allergenic and source of chest diseases are also the potential carriers of Corona Virus, he says. “Every year doctors find themselves treating a large number of patients, especially elderly and children with complain of sore throat, cold, cough, mild to high fever and skin rashes. The pollen and seed hair enters the mouth and nose of a person making that person cough and sneeze frequently,” he says. If a person is COVID-19 positive, he says, the virus would easily transmit from one person to another through the flying pollens or cotton fluff. “The allergy induced by pollen and cotton fluff is also likely to hamper the effective recovery of COVID-19 positive patients who may otherwise have good chances of recovery,” he says.
In 2015, the Court passed directions for cutting down of all pollen producing poplar trees but on ground only few hundred such trees came to be chopped off, he says. “Because of inaction of the government people have since then planted more number of poplar trees than the authorities have cut given the fast growth of such tress and consequent monetary benefits,” he says. Resultantly, the poplar trees can be found in every nook and corner particularly in rural areas. “In view of COVID-19 pandemic, it has become imperative to start a fresh drive for felling of such trees after proper identification,” he added. (GNS)