Now, Goa BJP speaks out against ‘Monument Mitra’ scheme

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Panaji, May 4 (IANS) Amid opposition criticism of the NDA government’s decision to privatise maintenance of heritage structures including the Red Fort in the national capital, now even the Goa unit of the BJP has expressed unhappiness over the “Monument Mitra” initiative.

Under fire from the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and various regional parties for selecting the Old Goa Church complex and other heritage sites for privatisation, state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar on Friday said that before taking such a decision, the central government should have taken local stakeholders into confidence.

“Stakeholders should be taken into confidence before going ahead with such decision. Affecting the sentiments of people is not a good thing,” Tendulkar told reporters at a press conference at the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters in Panaji.

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Tendulkar’s comments come two days after Goa’s Archives and Archaeology Minister Vijai Sardesai said the state government was not taken into confidence by the central government while selecting heritage sites for the Monument Mitra scheme.

The opposition in Goa has alleged that private adoption of the centuries-old Bom Jesus Church in the Old Goa Church complex near Panaji amounts to hurting the sentiments of Catholics in Goa.

The structure is endorsed by Unesco and is home to one of the most popular feasts of St. Francis Xavier, a Spanish saint, whose relics are still preserved in the Church complex.

In Goa, two companies — Drishti Marine, a private beach management agency, and V-Resorts, a hospitality major — have been shortlisted for participation in the scheme, which aims to develop monuments and heritage sites with the help of private parties for five years.

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Drishti Marine is set to adopt key heritage areas like the Old Goa Church complex, Aguada, Cabo de Rama and Chapora Fort, a lighthouse and Morjim beach, famous for Olive Ridley turtle nesting sites. V-Resorts has been shortlisted to adopt the Basilica of Bom Jesus church, which is several centuries old.

–IANS

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