Goa church lobbies against garbage dump near heritage complex

July 28th, 2009 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, July 28 (IANS) The Roman Catholic church in Goa is drumming up support amongst its followers and politicians against the state government’s decision to develop a garbage dumping site near the historic Old Goa church complex.
The Old Goa complex, located nearly 10 km from here, served as the capital of Portuguese India in the 16th Century and has the remains of Spanish missionary saint Francis Xavier. It is of immense religious and tourist significance to Goa and draws millions of visitors each year.

The complex is listed as a world heritage site by United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). According to the Diocesan Council of Priests (DCP), the government’s decision to start a garbage disposal site could result in Old Goa losing the heritage site tag.

“The absurd project will have grave repercussions not only on the Kadamba Plateau and Old Goa, but the whole state, presenting the people of Goa as incapable of protecting their heritage. We are assured that you will do everything necessary to stop this outrage,” says the letter signed by 400 Roman Catholic priests from the archdiocese of Goa and Daman sent to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat last week.

“The proposed landfill and waste management site is just 500 metres from the historical ‘Shiva Temple of Bramhapuri’, 700 metres from ‘Cruz dos Milagres’ (Church of the Miraculous Cross), and just 1.5 km from the Churches of Old Goa, St. Augustine Tower and other historical monuments,” the priests have said.

“Old Goa is visited by thousands of tourists and pilgrims every day because of the historical monuments. Having a waste management site within such an area will certainly cause nuisance to the tourists and create a bad image for the state. Besides, Old Goa is a sacred place for all the people in Goa, irrespective of their religious faiths.”

In a letter addressed to parishes all across the state, Maverick Fernandes, executive secretary of the Church-backed Council for Social Justice and Peace, urged all Roman Catholics to be proactive in their campaign against the dumping site.

“We are dispatching this self-explanatory letter sent to the chief minister and all the legislators. You are requested to appraise the faithful about the matter and conscientise them to raise the issue with their respective elected representative by organising a delegation at each village level, preferably including people of other faiths,” the letter states.

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