PANJIM: In a letter to the government, John B Mascarenhas, a resident of Varcondem, Ponda has demanded action against illegal shops operating within 100 metres of Old Goa’s World Heritage Monument.
In a letter to Chief Secretary Puneet Kumar Goel, copies of which have also been sent to Director of Panchayats, Se Old Goa Village Panchayat, Tiswadi Block Development Officer (BDO) and the North Goa Collector, Mascarenhas has pointed out that numerous illegally constructed structures and unauthorised shops and commercial enterprises have been operating within the restricted zone around the Old Goa World Heritage Monument.
“Such blatant disregard for the law not only contravenes the spirit of our Constitution but also undermines our international commitments to safeguard treasures,” he said.
“The consequences of these illegal activities are two-fold. Firstly they pose a grave threat to the structural integrity of the monument itself. The heavy footfall and commercialisation within its proximity risk erosion, pollution and damage to the historical structure. Secondly, the presence of these illegal shops is detrimental to the tourism industry in Goa, causing a decline in the number of tourists who would otherwise contribute significantly to the State's economy,” he said.
Stating that it is incumbent upon the authorities to identify and swiftly close down all unauthorised shops and commercial activities within the 100-metre restricted zone around the Old Goa World Heritage Monument, he has urged the authorities to enforce stricter penalties for those found in violation of heritage protection laws to serve as a deterrent for future encroachments.
Mascarenhas has also urged the authorities to promote awareness among those local communities and tourists regarding the significance of heritage preservation and develop a comprehensive heritage conservation and tourism management plan for Old Goa that balances heritage protection with responsible tourism.