Buckling under the public pressure over the decision to include Old Goa into the Greater Panaji Planning and Development Authority, the state government on Tuesday scrapped the move saying that sentiments expressed by religious bodies were duly factored in.
Deputy Chief Minister Chandrakant ‘Babu’ Kavlekar on late Tuesday evening made the announcement scrapping the decision to include Old Goa, which is home to the world heritage site, under planning area of the GPPDA.
Kavlekar, who is also the Town and Country Planning Minister, issued a press statement to the effect after Port Minister Michael Lobo raised the matter with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant earlier in the day.
There had been vehement opposition to the move of the Town and Country Planning Board from Opposition parties, social activists and people from Old Goa.
The press statement said the TCP department studied in detail the “proposal” sent by the Se-Old Goa village panchayat on including some areas under the Greater Panaji PDA.
“I have taken into consideration the sentiments expressed by religious bodies and discussed the issue with the Chief Minister. To maintain the sanctity of shrines at Old Goa, we have come to a conclusion that the proposal of further extending the Kadamba planning area needs to be scrapped,” Kavlekar said.
Earlier in the day, Lobo had strongly opposed the decision to include Old Goa under the GPPDA jurisdiction.
Lobo had met the Chief Minister at the latter’s official residence raising his objection to the TCP Board decision.
The TCP Board in its last meeting had decided to move the world heritage site area under the GPPDA jurisdiction.
“Old Goa is a UNESCO-recognised heritage site with more than 500 years history. People of all faiths go to Old Goa churches for seeking blessing. It is a historic religious site, where high-rise
buildings cannot be allowed…. As a Goan I raised the issue with the Chief Minister,” he had said.
Residents of Old Goa had also come out against the TCP Board’s decision, terming the move “undemocratic”.
Addressing media persons, social activists Prajal Sakhardande and Glen Cabral, Peter Viegas, Fatima Pereira, Tanu Kankonkar and others had threatened to come on the roads against the move.