Goa police to probe damage to heritage building

February 1st, 2009 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Feb 1 (IANS) The Goa Police have begun a probe against a Britain-based charitable trust, a renowned architect and a senior bureaucrat for damaging the famous 16th century Reis Magos Fort, a protected heritage site, located a few kilometers from the state capital.Police sources say that the investigators would be questioning officials of the London-based Helen Hamlyn Trust, architect Gerard D’Cunha and director of the state archaeology department Manohar Dicholkar, for damaging the fort, “altering its basic structure in the guise of renovation” and “destroying public property”.

“The summons will be issued in a couple of days. We need to question the accused in order to fix responsibility for the damage done to the fort,” a police official told IANS.

Officials said the help of the state home ministry is being sought to facilitate the questioning of the trust’s officials.

Police sources said that the Helen Hamlyn Trust had volunteered to provide Rs.30 million for restoring the Reis Magos Fort through the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural heritage (INTACH).

The restoration project had also received formal clearance from the Goa government and the work was being supervised by D’Cunha, known for conceptualising dancer Protima Bedi’s famous Nityagram.

The restoration of the the 450-year-old fort, which once served as an important post for the Adil Shah dynasty of Bijapur and later the Portuguese, kicked off in mid-2008 and was expected to be completed in November this year.

However, the work came to a halt after an NGO, the Goa Environment and Ecology Trust (GEET), filed a petition in a local court claiming that a new structure was being built in the name of restoration.

GEET argued that modern amenities were being added to the fort’s existing structure, which was in violation to heritage rules.

A first information report (FIR) has been filed against the trust, D’Cunha and Dicholkar under Section 30 of Goa, Daman and Diu Ancient Monuments & Archaeology Site and Remains Act, 1978, Section 3 of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, and Section 427 of Indian Penal Code.

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