Church, Goa government agree on monument scheme
Panaji: The Goa government has decided to support the federal tourism ministry’s contentious monument adoption scheme.
The decision to back the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme was taken on May 7 at a meeting of all stakeholders chaired by archives and archaeology minister Vijay Sardesai.
The scheme allows private funds to help maintain and promote Goa’s heritage sites.
Sardesai clarified that the state would not have any objections to the scheme as long it does not seek ownership or commercial interests in the selected heritage sites.
“It was unanimously felt that we should not say no to the scheme,” Sardesai said. “We have discussed all the pros and cons of the scheme. It has been clearly understood that this scheme is not about taking over the monument, but about preserving them in lines with international standards.”
The Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, the Archeological Survey of India and director of archives and Goa Tourism Development Corporation have unanimously supported the decision, reports The Times of India.
The federal government has picked 11 churches in Goa, including the Bom Jesu Basilica, to be taken up under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ or ‘Heritage Mitra’ scheme.
Along with the churches, the Aguada light house and fort and two other forts find mention on the list.
To ensure that ownership of the 11 churches remains with the religious institutions, Sardesai has recommended that before the memorandum of understanding is signed between with the private agency, the Church authorities issue a no objection certificate clearly spelling out the conditions.
“The NOC will have to be discussed, because we want several conditions included in the NOC which will make further problems impossible. The interest of the state, religious monuments and the institution that runs the monument and the party involved in the upkeep should be protected,” Sardesai said.
He also clarified that access to the core areas of the monuments would not be given to the private agencies. “The question of endangering the monument does not arise. This ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme is in the interest of Goa if implemented properly,” the minister added.
Father Loiola Pereira of the archdiocese represented Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao at the meeting. Rector of the Basilica of Bom Jesu Father Patricio Fernandes, and parish priest of the Se Cathedral, Father Alfred Vaz also agreed with the state government’s decision.
“It was unanimously decided that this scheme should be accepted as it is beneficial to the monuments,” Father Pereira said. “The monument will not be touched. The core monument will be in the custody of the ASI and owned by the church.”
The priest, however, said the archdiocese was unaware of the plan until recently.
Meanwhile the Goa unit of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has asked the archdiocesan representatives to explain to the people their understanding of the monument adoption scheme.
AAP Goa convener Elvis Gomes also wants the archdiocesan officials who attended the meeting how the scheme would benefit the Church in particular and the people in general, the United New of India reported.
He also urged the Church officials to disclose the reasons told to them for not taking them into confidence initially and why the scheme was planned behind a veil of secrecy by corporate houses, the federal ministry and the Goa government.
He expressed surprise that the Church officials understood the scheme “so well” with just one meeting with the Goa ministers who had earlier admitted they were ignorant of the plans.