The Goa government has expressed its reservation over the Centre listing some of the state monuments for adoption without consulting the local authorities about it.
The state cabinet members, including Archives Minister Vijai Sardesai, Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar and Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar, expressed apprehension over the Union culture ministry’s scheme under which, Sardesai claimed, six monuments in Goa, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus at Old Goa, have been listed for adoption.
“The news is that monuments, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus, have been listed for adoption by private players. The Goa government is completely in dark about it. It is a religious place of huge importance, the relics of St Francis Xavier are kept there,” Sardesai told reporters on Wednesday.
He said the Basilica, which is located about nine kms from Panaji, is not just a place of cultural importance but also has religious significance.
Sardesai said a meeting would be called next week where he, Ajgaonkar and Madkaikar, the MLA from North Goa’s Cumbharjua constituency where the Basilica of Bom Jesus is situated, will be present.
The ministers would discuss the matter with the parish priest of Se Cathedral (also located in Old Goa), rector of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, state chief secretary, the Archaeological Survey of India and the church representatives, he said.
“We should be clear about what exactly is the adoption scheme. The experience with Delhi (central government) has been that they come with a small thing and then they take over your whole asset,” Sardesai said.
The Old Goa churches are an asset of the state and the church has to be taken into confidence, he said, adding that “here in this case, we were not aware.”
“We, as a government, would like to be clear about the whole scheme and the adoption procedure, its transparency and whether the church was taken into confidence,” he said.
The Chapora and Cab de Rama forts have also been listed, he said, adding that “we will not allow anyone to take over the forts under the guise of providing some amenities.”
“We want the scheme to be well-defined. I want that the state government be taken into confidence along with the church. These are assets of the state,” Sardesai said.
On the occasion, Ajgaonkar said he was shocked to know about the listing of the state’s monuments for adoption.
“We are fully equipped to take care of our heritage structures. We don’t need any help from the corporates. Goans know what is best for them,” he said.
The minister claimed that his department, which promotes tourism, was completely kept in dark over the issue.
Madkaikar said the locals were also not taken into confidence before such a proposal was moved.
Notably, President Ram Nath Kovind had in September last year launched the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project, to entrust heritage sites to the public sector and private sector companies and individuals for the development of tourist amenities.
Last month, the Ministry of Tourism signed an MoU with the Dalmia Bharat Group and the ASI to adopt the iconic Red Fort monument in New Delhi and Gandikota Fort in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh under the project.