CM against direct foreign funding

| 14 December 2000 22:48 IST

Attempts by a Portuguese organisation to renovate and restore historical monuments and buildings in Goa - formerly a Portuguese colony - has come under severe criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party government.

Though it has not particularly targeted Fundacao Oriente, the Portugal-based cultural organisation which has taken up such works in Goa, chief minister Manohar Parrikar plans a policy decision against any such direct funding for cultural, educational and religious purposes.

After renovating Customs House in Panaji, Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount at Old Goa and front side of 168-year old police headquarters building, the work of 338-year old Shri Saptkoteshwar temple has been taken up by the Fundacao Oriente.

The Portuguese, in the 16th and 17th century, had destroyed several Hindu temples and Muslim mosques to build churches over it. The Saptkoteswhar temple being one of it destroyed at Diwar island across Old Goa which was later rebuilt by Maratha warrior Chatrapati Shivaji at Narve, the same is being renovated now by the Fundacao Oriente.

While the action appears to be redemption of the sins committed by their colonial fathers, Dr Carlos Monjardino, president of the Fundacao Oriente, states that the temple work has been undertaken to undo an impression that they take up works of only particular religion.

"We would not mind any such funding, provided it is channelised through the state government. We however definitely welcome direct funding in the field of public utility and infrastructural facilities like bridges etc", says Parrikar.

While a thorough discussion on this issue in the next cabinet meeting was announced by Parrikar in the evening, the state chief secretary Ashok Nath in the morning requested Fundacao Oriente to take up several other works in the state, while inaugurating the renovated police building.

After spending around Rs 12 lakh over renovation of the front side, the Fundacao Oriente now plans to take up renovation of the whole complex which houses police stations on both the sides and the government printing press, collectorate office and Institute Menezes Braganza on the sideways.

The BJP chief minister, on the other hand, has instructed the state archaeology department to prepare a comprehensive master plan to protect temples and churches which were built three to four centuries ago while also assuring enough amount of funds for the works.

As Fundacao Oriente also grants scholarships to research students and publishes research books, a large group of freedom fighters as well as 'nationalists' belonging to the Sangh Parivar here feel that the government should not allow such organisations to take up such restoration works.

"The Fundacao should continue its constructive activities by undertaking more such restorations of the structure presently in the dilapidated condition", states the chief secretary. Monjardino also plans to consult the state authorities to extend their help to the street children in the form of clothes, books etc.

Besides Goa, Fundacao has also taken up similar works in Delhi and Mumbai as well as Daman and Diu, making a special annual provision of around USD four lakh. "We also plan to send a delegation to East Timor in helping the devastated country", says Monjardino.

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