Eco-tourism project in Old Goa sparks row, locals concerned about heritage structures

The Goa government’s move to approve a proposal for an eco-tourism project in the vicinity of a protected chapel in Old Goa has sparked a row, with people coming out with a campaign calling for its cancellation.

Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant chaired the meeting of people that approved the project. (PTI File Photo)

In October this year, the Goa Investment Promotion Board granted its ‘in-principle’ nod to a proposal by The Laterite Resorts to develop a high-end luxury eco resort falling within the village panchayat of Old Goa and notified a draft proposal to 10356.66 sqm of land to be set aside for the project.

With the last date to file objections to the project ending on November 11, one month after the proposal was notified, objections have been pouring in from local villagers, church authorities and people across the state.

The project is planned within the plot, part of which falls in the 100m ‘no development zone’ around the Chapel. It is among the few remaining green patches and natural cover of Old Goa. The chapel is a state-protected monument with a 100m buffer zone and the proposed project comes within the buffer zone.

“Ignoring all this, the government has brought this project here,” Glen Cabral of the Save Old Goa Action Committee, a people’s collective, said.

“Besides, we also fear for the structural stability of the Chapel as excavation work to set up the eco-tourism project that falls downhill from the Chapel will threaten or cause cracks to the chapel,” Cabral added.

The Capela da Nossa Senhora do Monte or Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount is among the first Christian religious structures to have been built in Goa, which according to historian’s accounts was commissioned by Afonso de Albuquerque the first Portuguese Governor General of Goa. It was completed in 1519.

The Chapel is also the venue that hosts the acclaimed Monte Music Festival, a more than two-decade-old classical music festival.

“The green patch that is seen from the chapel forms a natural backdrop for the music festival and provides an unobstructed aerial view of the main Old Goa church complex. One wonders what the fate of the entire complex will be if interrupted by this eco-tourism project,” Cabral said.

In what could prove to be a fatal blow for the project, the chairman of the Goa Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) Aleixo Lourenco, who was part of the meeting that approved the project, has written to chief minister Pramod Sawant who chaired the meeting, withdrawing his consent for the project.

“When the project came up for clearance, I didn’t think much of it and since it was being proposed by a reputed name in the real estate sector. However, since there is opposition from people, I believe we should not go ahead with the project and have put down in writing my reasons for the same,” Lourenco said.

Church authorities voiced their concern against locating the project in the vicinity of protected monuments.

“We are not against the project per se, it should be located in a location that is not of any trouble to anyone. We believe that the protected zone should be respected. Today if one project is allowed, tomorrow more people will seek for permissions citing this,” Fr. Alfred Vaz, president of the Cathedral Chapter of the Goa Archdiocese, said.

The local village panchayat too has moved a resolution opposing the project. Sarpanch Vishwas Kuttikar informed that the issue was debated at a recently held gram sabha meeting and a unanimous decision was passed seeking revocation of the licences for the project.

Locals fear that locating a resort/hotel in the area will adversely affect the sanctity and serenity of the place. The increased traffic, and inevitable ancillary construction of workers’ huts, taxi stands and shops etc., will completely and irrevocably mar the site, they feel.

Exciting news! Hindustan Times is now on WhatsApp Channels Subscribe today by clicking the link and stay updated with the latest news! Click here!

Source link


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enquiry Form