22 Nov 2021  |   06:58am IST


Team Herald

OLD GOA:  Hundreds and hundreds of feet stamped on the sacred soil of Old Goa. Each foot had a voice and a heartbeat, of Goans fighting to protect their past, Goa’s heritage, and the future of their children. A future that every parent prays is as beautiful as Goa’s past.

Goans from all ages and communities and various walks of life along with politicians who were present on the sidelines, on Sunday demanded immediate demolition of an illegal construction by a political functionary of the ruling BJP being built in the protected areas at Old Goa. 

The people gathered under the banner of Save Old Goa Action Committee and participated in the Mahamorcha near the St Cajetan Church. The protestors took a pledge not to vote for any candidate fielded by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party governing the State and the country until the illegal construction is demolished and the Town and

 Country Planning (TCP) department notify the protected areas and buffer zones on the Regional Plan.

Historian Prof Prajal Sakhardande of Goa Heritage Action Group said that the illegal construction/bungalow is being built within a radius of a one-kilometer buffer zone of UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Goa and feared that Old Goa may lose World Heritage Site status if the illegal structure/bungalow is not demolished.

Thanking the people for coming out in large numbers to express their solidarity to the cause, Prof Sakhardande said, “Goemkarpann is our religion, and let us not get divided on religious lines. We are one. We are all Goenkars. We will continue this battle till this illegal structure is demolished and razed to the ground.”   

Adv Radharao Gracias in a fiery speech said, “I’m not here as a writer in Herald, (he is a columnist for this paper) or an advocate or activist. I’m here to protest as a Goan. The farmers of Punjab who are real nationalists who protested the farm laws were called Khalistanis by the BJP. But they had to apologise to the same people. Did they apologise to Khalistanis? Here we must be prepared to fight a long-drawn battle (for Goa’s heritage). Let us do it. This is not the only issue. Mining is another issue. We are all Goans and we have to stand up. We have to defeat the BJP and it is not difficult.”

Adv Andrea Fernandes gave details of the legal battles fought by the Save Old Goa Act Committee and told the crowd that the perpetrators of this illegality were so well connected that they managed to transfer the honest officer of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) from Goa to Chennai before he could file his affidavit in the Supreme Court.

Demanding to know what audacity the political functionary BJP spokesperson Shaina N C had to construct an illegal bungalow in the protected areas, Adv Fernandes alleged that the government authorities were turning a blind eye to the illegality because they had granted permissions fraudulently.

Adv Fernandes also charged that a member of a political party, which is talking of Goem, Goemkar and Goemkarpann acted as a broker, struck a deal, and sold the property to the BJP functionary. She appealed to the crowd not to vote for BJP if the illegal construction is not razed before the ensuing Assembly elections.

Architect Dean D’Cruz demanded that the illegal construction should be demolished and that the heritage site be conserved and protected at all cost.

Former MLA Radharao Gracias said that the people will have to fight to protect the world heritage sites at Old Goa.

Tiatrist Seby de Divar sang a song on “Goychem daiz ami rakhtole” appealing to the people to preserve Goa’s heritage.

Later speaking to the media, Congress leader Elvis Gomes, former Siolim sarpanch Francis Fernandes, social worker Samil Volvoikar and others demanded immediate demolition of the illegal structure being built by a political party functionary with the backing of the BJP government.

Aruna Wagh conducted the meeting and later proposed a vote of thanks.


Idhar Udhar