December 4, 2021 11:05:52 pm
Union Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy Saturday said a special Archeological Survey of India team would look into the construction of the allegedly illegal bungalow in a heritage Old Goa precinct.
“I have received information about it. It has happened without permission from ASI. We are taking action against it. It is wrong. I have already asked a special team of ASI to inquire. We will take action against it. I am convinced this should not have happened, but it has. There will be a decision about it,” Reddy said in Panaji on Saturday.
The allegedly illegal structure has been at the centre of protests and a hunger strike by citizens and activists. They are demanding the demolition of the bungalow in Ella village of Old Goa. On Friday, on the occasion of the feast of St Francis Xavier, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao had also said that the Church stood in solidarity with those protesting the ‘obnoxious activities’ in Old Goa. “I strongly appeal to all those in authority to refrain from any acts and decisions which are illegal and detrimental to the preservation of the religious and heritage sanctity of Old Goa,” Ferrao had said at the event attended by Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
One of the two buyers of the plots was Manish Munot, husband of Mumbai-based BJP Spokesperson Shaina NC. Both Shaina and Munot had said they have nothing to do with the alleged illegal construction. Munot subsequently pulled out of the project.
While announcing initiatives to strengthen the tourism industry in Goa, Reddy also said: “As Goa celebrates 60 years of its liberation, the government is making every effort to develop tourism infrastructure in the state. Goa is one of the prominent states in the tourism sector where most of the world heritage sites are there. Hence the Ministry has decided to pay special attention to Goa to promote Tourism.”
Meanwhile, activists who have been on a hunger strike in the protest said they would continue as no demolition order had been issued by the state government yet. Architect Tahir Noronha, one of the protesters, said a letter from the Town and Country Planning (TCP) department had directed the panchayat to take action according to the Goa Village Panchayat Raj Act. He said that according to Section 66(3) of the Act, the Panchayat could revoke the construction licence or issue a notice for demolition. On December 2, the Panchayat had issued a show cause notice to the erstwhile owner of the structure Jose Maria Gouveia de Pinto, to revoke the construction license and not demolish the structure, he said. “We will continue our protest until there is a JCB on the site to demolish the structure,” Noronha said.
Activist Xencor Polgi, said that the church’s backing had given more strength to the protest as the church rarely comments on such issues.
Aruna Wagh, a member of the Save Old Goa Action Committee, said that throughout December, citizens of Goa were invited to join the protest constituency-wise each day.
While citizens had earlier staged demonstrations, the Congress party in Goa also joined in the agitation in July alleging that the ruling BJP in Goa had facilitated illegal permissions.
In the last one month, leaders from the AAP and the TMC have also thrown their weight behind the protest.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal arrived in Goa on Saturday to visit AAP leader Amit Palekar, who fasted over the last five days alongside protestors fasting for the last 11 days after the construction of the allegedly illegal bungalow in Old Goa. “After seeing Amit Palekar’s indefinite hunger strike and the kind of support he has been receiving from Goans, finally the government was forced to cave in. This is the beginning of Goa’s political cleansing,” Kejriwal said. The AAP national convenor also said, “People who claim Palekar’s hunger strike was a political stunt, I challenge them to fast for five days. Fasting is a spiritual experience. It cleanses the body and soul. In the last 60 years of liberation, no political leader has burnt out their body for a cause.”
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