Master plan demanded to protect Old Goa churches

Fatima Pereira, president of SOGAC, said these illegal activities have been going on for many years.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa that holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. File photo: Paul Noronha

Panaji:A group that fights mushrooming of illegal structures around world heritage churches of Old Goa has demanded a ‘Heritage Master Plan’ for the area since it is a recognized global heritage site, now facing a threat of losing its sheen.

The Save Old Goa Action Committee (SOGAC) that is spearheading the movement made the demand as the State is gearing for next month’s decennial Exposition of St. Xavier’s body at Bom Jesus Basilica Church at Old Goa.

Peter Viegas of SOGAC told The Hindu on Saturday that there are 14 ASI declared monuments, eight State protected sites and 18 unprotected sites. There could be some more undiscovered structures with historical importance in Old Goa since Kadambas, Adil Shah and Portuguese ruled the State for thousands of years.

The local people are agitating over growing cases of land shark-politician-builder nexus to grab the land and carry on illegal construction activities in and around the premises of the world heritage Churches.

Fatima Pereira, president of SOGAC, said these illegal activities have been going on for many years.

The activists say they have urged the government to initiate immediate steps to preserve and protect Old Goa from being swallowed by land sharks-builders-politicians nexus.

Articulating their concerns, they pointed out that recently 10 illegal migrant rented rooms and a shopping mall with many individual stalls have come up inside the Basilica compound by demolishing the compound wall at the western gate.

Several letters and representations have been made to the authority concerned such as Panchayat, ASI, Collector, Police and Director of Panchayat etc. from 2011 onwards.

Just as the government has formed a High Powered Exposition Committee with all the stake holders, SOGAC insists on a Heritage Master Plan.

Mr. Viegas expressed the need for formation of a regulatory authority for preservation of the world heritage structures through concerted effort of all stakeholders including the government, Archdiocese and non-governmental organisations.

Morover, the committee demanded demarcation of all State-protected monuments, and other sites and also sought demarcation of a 100-metre protected zone and 100-200 metre regulated zone for ASI and State-protected monuments.

Source: The Hindu

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