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India disappointed at losing Gandhi's Johannesburg house

October 07, 2009 19:44 IST

The government on Wednesday expressed disappointment over a French company snapping up Mahatma Gandhi's Johannesburg house, through Sotheby's auction firm, but said it will continue efforts to acquire the heritage property through a public sector company.

"The matter concerns national sentiment and I will leave no stone unturned to acquire the historic property and declare it a national monument," said Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal.

Coal India Ltd, under the control of the Coal Ministry, had approached the owners of the house where the father of nation lived a century ago, for acquiring the property.

"The ministry, through the CIL, had approached the sellers of the house and was ready to pay any amount they wished for. Negotiations were on but unfortunately, despite giving a month's deadline, they did not contact us," Jaiswal said.

He said the CIL board had taken a decision that its employees would part with a day's salary towards a fund for acquiring the house. "I have already announced that I will give my one month's salary besides making efforts for arranging more funds," he said.

Voyageurs du Monde, a Paris Stock Exchange listed company, has bought 'the Kraal', located at the leafy suburb of Orchards in Johannesburg, at a price believed to be almost twice the asking price of $377,029.

The thatched-roof Rondavel- style house was inhabited by young lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from 1908 to 1910 and was designed by Gandhi's confidant and architect Hermann Kallenbach.

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