Employees at the Roerich estate demand investigation into felling a 300-year deodar

Monday, 14 October 2013 09:49

The employees of the Roerich International Memorial Trust have demanded an investigation into the felling of a 300-year deodar that grew in the reserve estate in Naggar on the Kullu Valley in the Western Himalayas.

In their petition to Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh and Vice-President of the Trust Alexander Kadakin, they express their indignation.

None of the branches of the trees in the Rerikhs estate has been cut for many years and nobody was allowed to do this, says the petition. This deodar was an object of attention, and travelers arrived there to watch the tree. The felling of the deodar is an irreplaceable loss and grief for the local residents.

The employees say that supervisor of the estate Brahma Kunal had appealed to relevant agencies for permission to cut the tree, but he was denied. The reason  is that under tough nature-protecting legislation in the state, felling deodars are prohibited even on private territories without sanction of the authorities. Those who violate the law are liable to be fined or may even get jail sentence. The price of such a deodar is about 400,000 rupees or more than $6,000. However, poachers often cut trees.

“We call on the Chief Minister to launch an investigation and strictly punish those who violated the law. We must do our best to preserve the estate,” the petition says.

Meanwhile, Kunal on his part says that head of the administration Shakti Singh Chandel gave him permission for felling the deodar. Shakti Singh Chandel is a guardian of the Trust and is famous for his scandalous attempts to prevent the participation of Russians in the Trust. They allegedly allowed Kunal to act as he thinks best.

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin, who is a founder of the RIMT and its lifetime guardian, said that the diplomatic mission would press for holding a thorough investigation into the incident.

“We share the feelings experienced by the Indians and all those who value the heritage of our great compatriots, the ambassador said in an interview with ITAR-TASS. What shocks us most is the involvement of the supervisor of the estate, who is directly responsible for preserving the memorial complex, including the house museum and its invaluable paintings by Nicholas Roerich and his son Svyatoslav, in the evil deed that is recognized in Himachal Pradesh as a serious crime.

The Roerichs International Memorial Trust was founded over 20 years ago, in June 1992. During the Second World War when India was still a British colony, Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi visited their friends, the Roerich family in Naggar and discussed their plans to establish an Indian association of friendship with the people of Russia. Since the foundation of the trust, the estate has become a place for spiritual and cultural pilgrimage. It has attracted people from many countries. At the same time, the RIMT has started playing a significant role in the life of people in the entire region becoming one of the most attracting places in northern India. Annually, about 100,000 people visit the region.

Painter Nicholas Roerich arrived in the Kullu Valley with his wife Elena in late 1928 after ending his Central Asian expedition. When they came to the house, it was empty. There was a chair in a room with initials H.R, Helen Roerich, as if they were expected in the house. The furniture belonged to the former owner of the house Colonel Henry Reinkh. However, the Roerichs considered such a coincidence as a special sign. They bought the estate and lived up to 1947, until the death of Nicholas Roerich. Later Svyatoslav with his wife Devika Rani, an Indian film star, often visited there to take rest.

The Voice of Russia


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