‘Make clear distinction between structures for Monument Mitra scheme’

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Panaji, May 5 (IANS) A travel and tourism association in Goa on Saturday said the “Monument Mitra” scheme should make a distinction between religious and non-religious structures before putting them up for adoption.

The Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG), an umbrella body for the travel and tourism industry enterprises in the coastal state also said a transparent process should be followed for adoption of heritage structures by the corporates.

The association expressed its views even as the coalition government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa have formally panned the central tourism ministry’s “Monument Mitra” scheme.

The TTAG also said that while private participation in conservation of heritage is necessary, the public at large should not be denied access to the heritage monuments, and the structures should be allowed to be adopted purely from a corporate social responsibility point of view and not for profit-making.

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“The government in doing so, needs to distinguish between religious monuments and the non-religious historical monument. Regarding religious monuments, there is a need to follow a consultative process between the respective government and religious bodies,” the TTAG said in a resolution passed on Saturday.

The resolution comes in wake of a controversy brewing in the state over the last two days, with the Opposition lambasting the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government as well as the BJP-led coalition government in Goa, for allowing the adoption of the 16th century Basilica of Bom Jesus to private companies under the “Monument Mitra” scheme.

The Basilica is of immense religious significance to Goa, considering it is a part of a Church complex endorsed as a World Heritage site by the Unesco and it holds the sacred relics of Goa’s patron saint Francis Xavier and hosts an annual feast attended by hundreds of thousands of devotees in honour of the Spanish saint.

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Reeling under pressure, Archives and Archaeology Minister Vijai Sardesai and Goa BJP President Vinay Tendulkar have said that the state government was not taken into confidence while listing the monuments for adoption.

“The TTAG further resolved there should be a transparent policy for selecting the corporate or private entity entrusted with such monuments. Profit should not be the motive and it should be purely a CSR exercise by the respective corporate,” the resolution said.

It also recommended that the state government should also adopt the scheme, while ensuring “for improvement of the upkeep of its monuments”.

–IANS

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