Indian Catholic News

Goa Church explains 'u-turn' on 'Monument Mitra' scheme

The minority leaders criticised the state government for "mortgaging" Goa's heritage without taking the Church into confidence.

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The influential Roman Catholic Church in Goa on Wednesday explained its 'u-turn' on the "Monument Mitra" scheme in which it eventually agreed to participate after its initial refusal.

Faced with criticism, after its overnight u-turn over the issue of proposed adoption of the state's most iconic churches, the 17th century Basilica of Bom Jesus, by a private company under the central government's 'Monument Mitra' scheme, the Church said it agreed to take part in the tourism promotion scheme after its conditions were agreed to by the state government.

In a statement on Wednesday, J. Loiola Pereira, a spokesperson for the state's Archbishop, said the decision of the Goa government to include the Church as a party to the MoU due to be drafted for the scheme led to the Church to eventually agree to be a part of the scheme.

"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' should not be rejected," Pereira said.

"It was also agreed that the Archdiocese, as the owner of the monuments, would draw up an NOC 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 NOC after due consultation at various levels," the statement said.

Controversy erupted in Goa last week after two companies, Drishti Marine and V-Resorts, were shortlisted for participation in the "Monument Mitra" scheme, which is aimed at developing monuments and heritage sites with the help of private participation for five years.

Drishti Marine is set to adopt key heritage areas like the Old Goa Church complex, Aguada, Cabo de Rama and Chapora fort, a lighthouse and Morjim beach, famous for Olive Ridley turtle nesting sites.

V-Resorts will be adopting the Basilica of Bom Jesus church, a 17th century structure housing the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier, a 16th century missionary saint and hosts the annual feast of the state's patron saint Francis Xavier, which is attended by hundreds and thousands of devotees.

The opposition as well as minority leaders criticised the state government for "mortgaging" Goa's heritage without taking the Church into confidence.


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