Row over planting of Bodhi tree sapling by Indian envoy in Nepal

A controversy has erupted over the site where India's Ambassador to Nepal planted a sapling of the holy Bodhi tree in the premises of a temple in Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha, as the area is within the 'risk map' and not in the tree plantation zone.

PTI| Last Updated: Dec 12, 2014, 20:19 PM IST

Kathmandu: A controversy has erupted over the site where India's Ambassador to Nepal planted a sapling of the holy Bodhi tree in the premises of a temple in Lumbini, the birth place of Gautam Buddha, as the area is within the 'risk map' and not in the tree plantation zone.

According to Nepal's Tourism Secretary Suresh Man Shrestha, the sapling should have been planted in the tree plantation zone.

India's Ambassador Ranjit Rae on Wednesday planted the sapling some 100 metres away from the Mayadevi Temple in Lumbini which lies in the risk map of the area.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was supposed to plant the sapling some 500 metres north from the temple during his visit to the country for the 18th SAARC Summit. But as the Prime Minister's Lumbini visit was cancelled, the Ambassador planted the sapling on his behalf.

Experts have raised concern as the possible expansion of the root of the tree might damage historical sites including Ashoka Pillar and the Mayadevi Temple.

"We had asked the Foreign Ministry to plant the tree in coordination of the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), the body responsible for the development of the area," the Tourism Secretary said.

The incident happened due to lack of seriousness on the part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it did not cooperate with the Ministry of Culture, Department of Archaeology and the LDT, official news agency RSS reported.

Director General of the Department of Archaeology, Bhesh Narayan Dahal has pointed out that planting of any sapling inside the archaeological sites declared by the Department is not allowed.

The Tourism Ministry has reportedly advised officials to shift the sapling to the tree plantation zone, which lies outside the risk zone.