11/09/2023, 14.05
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Goa: protests against plans to build a resort at sites dear to Saint Francis Xavier

by Nirmala Carvalho

Last week, more than 5,000 signatures were collected from local residents, including several politicians and clerics, who oppose the construction of a luxury resort in Old Goa because it encroaches on protected areas near the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount. This is not the first project of this kind undermining the local cultural heritage.

Goa (AsiaNews) - Last week more than 5,000 people signed a petition against the construction of a luxury eco-resort in Old Goa (Velha Goa), a city in the State of Goa, western India. Among the signatories there are also several political and religious leaders.

The project encroaches on areas around the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount, one of the oldest Catholic churches in the region and an important religious site, which should be protected by the state.

The news was published in the Official Gazette last month. In addition to the approval of the project, the Investment Promotion Board (IPB) urged the state government to designate an area of 10,356 square metres as an investment promotion area.

The Save Old Goa action committee had already expressed its objection to the project. Last Sunday, a group of residents accused the government and the IPB, which grants building permits, of trying to divide Goans along sectarian lines.

Fr Savio Fernandes, one of the signatories of the petition, said that as the resort project was conceived within the site of a protected heritage site, "people from all over Goa must come out and express their objection.”

This is not the first time the government has granted permits for projects that threaten Old Goa's historical and cultural heritage.

For activist Anthony D'Silva, many other projects have been allowed around the sites dear to Saint Francis Xavier, patron saint of the missions together with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and whose tomb is located in Old Goa.

"Is there a grand plan to destroy the holiness of Saint Francis Xavier?" wonders D'Silva. "First the waste treatment plant in Old Goa, then the illegal bungalows in Old Goa, the helipad also in Old Goa and now a new project," he pointed out.

Opposition leader Yuri Alemao also slammed the IPB's decision, saying that his party would fully support residents in their fight against the construction of the eco-resort.

"Such a project cannot be allowed in a religious and heritage site like Old Goa," he said.

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