PANAJI: Goa Forward Party (GFP) President and MLA Vijai Sardesai in a letter to Union Minister for Culture Prahlad Singh Patel has demanded the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to intervene and stop the move to include Old Goa heritage under Greater Panaji Planning and Development Authority (GPPDA)

Vijai said that the proposed move is a blatant act of encroachment of the Old Goa boundaries determined by the UNESCO. Under these provisions, the Goa government could allow building height to reach 30 metres in various commercial zones as against the 9-meter height restrictions, which are currently allowed.

Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, Old Goa is well known for its rich built heritage and culture having more than 50 monuments and sites of high significance. Since the 15th century, the sites that stand today are not only acclaimed cultural and historical monuments but are a symbols of faith for the numerous Goan Catholics that express their devotion to their religion and culture – but most especially to the blessed remains of St Francis Xavier.

Vijai said new proposed developments that are coming are taller, wider  and more in coverage and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) within the vicinity of Old Goa allow the visibility of these heritage structures to be overshadowed and the very purpose of protecting these monuments will be defeated.

Vijai demanded that the government should immediately withdraw their decision before 3rd December 220, the feast day of St Francis Xavier and preserve the future of our history.  

The GFP President has demanded that Old Goa be declared a Heritage Zone as proposed by numerous archaeological and engineering experts that have raised this issue since 2015 and have offered viable solutions and strategies to protect and preserve the World Heritage Sites of Goa.