- Sujal Pradhan, NET Correspondent, Sikkim
Following series of efforts to preserve the 100-years-old Banyan Tree located at Old Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial (STNM) hospital premises; the authorities have felled-down the heritage tree on Thursday night, with an intent to establish a multi-level car parking-cum-shopping Hub.
The General Secretary of Sikkimey Nagarik Samaj (SNS) – Passang Sherpa, referred the act as “unruly behaviour of the state administration, who felled-down the tree like ‘chors’.”
This comes after a video surfaced online of the tree been felled-down in middle of the night.
“The state government felled-down the tree in the middle of the night like ‘chors’, which is very disappointing. Only ‘chors’ behave in this sly manner and conduct such an act in the middle of the night,” stated Mr. Sherpa.
“Entire Sikkim is feeling the pain today and it is a very sad day in our history. We will all pray that the ‘paap’ of cutting the sacred & holy tree is only borne by those responsible for such an unholy decision and not the common people of Sikkim.” – he added.
“According to earlier permissions, the tree was supposed to be relocated in a safe manner to a different location. Smart City Pvt. Ltd., UDHD and the entire state administration must provide explanation to the people of Sikkim answering if, where, and how the tree was relocated,” he added.
“During LD Kazi’s government, hospital construction in the area was done keeping-in-mind of the holy tree. Even during Bhandari’s government, the construction was done without harming the tree.” – remarked the former minister – K.N. Upreti.
“If the state government wanted, they could have saved the tree and designed the car parking and shopping complex with the tree in place,” he added.
Its worthy to note that the concerned authorities have already received the approval and granted to translocate the concerned tree, during onset of rainy season to a designated spot (lower altitude) in coordination with GSCDL officials.
As per official statement, the process was likely to be initiated on June 30.
Prior to the procedures, the State Coordinator of SNS – Sonam Gyatso Sherpa on June 29 expressed grave concern over the felling of the “heritage tree which has been in the region for more than 100 years, and what we want is that the concerned authority should try to save this tree with environmental-friendly engineering ideas as the banyan tree is considered to be sacred in Hindu religion.”
Earlier this year, SNS also offered a prayer to the mentioned tree as mark of respect and had lodged an FIR with Sadar Police Station to immediately stop the removal of religiously and environmentally significant tree.