BREACHED: The defences of the Chapora Fort have been breached by Modis government as it is part of the list of monuments to be privatized
The new GPCC president, Girish Chodankar, has exposed the lies of Vijai Sardesai, Minister for Archeology, and Babu Azgaonkar, Minister for Tourism, who claimed that they were not aware that the government was planning to hand over historical public monuments to private industrialists. The Red Fort has already been given to the Dalmias, a cement company, and the world famous Taj Mahal reportedly to the tobacco company ITC.
Several heritage churches at Old Goa, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus which houses the 17th Century sacred relics of St Francis Xavier and the Aguada, Cabo de Rama and Chapora forts are said to have been already offered to the private sector even before this scheme was made public without any public consultation or any debate over the advantages and disadvantages of this scheme. Besides the churches, Aguada, Cabo de Rama, Chapora forts and Morjim beach which has a protected area for its Olive Ridley turtle nesting site are also being thrown in to private hands, many of whom have no previous knowledge or expertise in handling heritage sites.
Chodankar pointed to a document (reproduced on the right) signed by state Tourism Minister Babu Azgaonkar to the Central Tourism Minister extending his full cooperation to the scheme saying it clearly proves that State ministers were not only aware of ‘Adopt the heritage’ scheme but also extended full cooperation to the Centre. Para 3 of the letter also states that state Ministry of Tourism in association with State Ministry of Archives prepared the list of heritage monuments /sites which
were to be undertaken as part of the project under phase II. A letter signed by Director of Directorate of Archives & Archaeology, (reproduced far-right) actually lists four Goan monuments to be undertaken in phase II of the scheme. Goa Forward spokesperson Trajano D’Mello insists that Vijai was unaware of what was happening.
The heritage adoption scheme by the private sector kicked up controversy in Goa following the U turn made by Vijai Sardesai and the Church which initially opposed the scheme only to later support the powerful private sector players who are out to virtually “grab” the invaluable heritage sites in Goa.
Curiously it was after one meeting held by the Minister for Archeology with the stake holders, including the church, that they agreed to the sche
me. The Church however has qualified that the properties will continue to belong to it as they are living monuments unlike most which are not in daily use.
Opposition political parties have heavily criticised the Goa government’s move to support the heritage adoption scheme by private players.
After initially stating that the Goa Government was not consulted by the Central
Government on the “Heritage Mitra” or “Monument Mitra” scheme, Vijay Sardesai, Minister for Archives and Archaeology has made a complete U turn and came out in open support for the scheme stating that as long as this scheme did not seek ownership or commercial interests in the heritage sites in Goa he supported the heritage sites being adopted by the private sector.
The Minister and the Church had a joint meeting that declared its support to the heritage sites being taken for adoption by private parties.
Goa’s Chief Secretary claimed that the Heritage Mitra Scheme will enhance the cultural importance of the heritage sites, besides providing world class tourist facilities in Goa.
Meanwhile the Aam Aadmi Party, has sought an explanation from the Church on the exact nature of the scheme and the reasons behind the initial Church criticism of the heritage sites adoption scheme and the sudden agreement later, to
participate in the Monument Mitra scheme.
In view of some malicious and defamatory statements doing the rounds in the social media with regard to the participation of the Church in the “Adopt a Heritage Scheme” being proposed for the heritage monuments/churches in Old Goa, the following clarification is issued:
The Director of the Directorate of Archives and Archaeology, Governm
ent of Goa, invited representatives of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman to participate in a meeting called by the Hon’ble Minister of Town and Country Pla
nning, to discuss about the said Scheme, in which the Chief Secretary, Directors of the State
Archives and Archaeology as well as of the State Tourism Departments, A.S.I. officials, the Parish Priest of the Cathedral Church and the Rector of the Bom Jesus Basilica were also asked to participate. The meeting took place in the Goa Secretariat on May 7, 2018 and the Archdiocese was represented by Frs. Valeriano Vaz, Loiola Pereira and Anthony Fernandes.
The “Adopt a Heritage Scheme” was explained and put forward for discussion. The Chef Secretary explained that the Scheme envisages to enhance the cultural importance of the heritage site and to provide world class tourist facilities at the various sites across the country. This would include basic (and, wherever needed, advanced) amenities, illumination, surveillance, etc. with safety and security to visitors, “within permissible guidelines of the A.S.I.” Corporates and individuals, to be called “Monument Mitras” would be invited to provide peripheral facilities to the visitors, without touching the core of the monument or carrying out any conservation or restoration works, which would remain vested with the A.S.I. or the State Archaeology Department as the case may be.
During the discussion that followed, the representatives of the Archdiocese pointed out that the Church, being the owner of the Catholic religious sites in Old Goa, cannot be ignored or excluded from any MOUs that may be eventually drawn with regard to the provision of the aforesaid peripheral infrastructures or amenities. On these conditions, the church representatives agreed with the rest of the participants that the proposed “Adopt a Heritage Scheme” should not be rejected.
It was also agreed that the Archdiocese, as the owner of the monuments, would draw up an “N.O.C.” listing all the conditions/restrictions/safeguards which it might deem fit in each case. Therefore, no intervention at the selected church sites would be allowed without the consent of the Diocesan Authority, which would draw up this N.O.C. after due consultation at various levels. It was also agreed that the Archdiocese would also figure in the proposed “Monument Committee,” which would, among other things, monitor the execution of the said N.O.C.
Fr. Valeriano Vaz
Fr. J. Loiola Pereira