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Catholics storm ancient Bishop House complex

Old Goa parishioners want a halt to ’illegal’ construction activity

Catholics storm ancient Bishop House complex
The ancient Archiepiscopal Palace at Old Goa situated behind the Se Cathedral
Bosco de Sousa Eremita, Old Goa

January 26, 2011

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Catholics in Old Goa have stormed the ancient Bishop’s House complex to stop an “unauthorized” construction carried out by a federal government agency. The trouble began when Father Leonard Correia heard the noise of some construction activity in the complex on Jan. 23. “When I went to see, I was surprised to see laborers carrying out some work,” he said. Catholics, who had come for Sunday Mass also noticed sand, cement, tiles and plywood in the church premises. They claimed that the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) was constructing staff quarters without the permission of the church authorities. The laborers had to stop work after a police complaint was filed by Father Correia but resumed work the next day. Annoyed by this, about 100 parishioners stormed the construction site, drove away the workers and threw out their belongings. “The ASI has overstepped its mandate of maintenance of heritage monuments and was occupying church property,” said Xavier Rodrigues, an official from the local parish council. Rodrigues claimed that this was not the first instance as the ASI had occupied church property and built rooms to house its staff. Father Correia said the ASI is illegally occupying quarters meant for priests and associates and now they are carrying out renovation works in violation of their own norms. “We were not informed nor have we given them any permission,” he added. ASI Deputy Superintendent archeologist KV Rao said the premise was occupied by the ASI 25 years ago. “Since we have shifted our main office to Old Goa from Panjim, the gardener (of the complex) requested us to see the condition he was living in because of humidity in the walls and floor,” he said. Rao said they decided to put plywood on the ceiling but locals came and threw his things out and accused him of being a dictator. Related report Goa highway project puts basilica at risk ID13025.1368
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