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The Church suggests government explain in detail district and village development plans

Goa Church silent on island sale to hotel chain

Bosco de Sousa Eremita, Panaji

September 01 2010

Goa and Daman archdiocese is staying tight-lipped over allegations that it collaborated with state officials to sell an island to a luxury hotel chain without consulting its inhabitants.

Maggie Silveira, lead campaigner against the alleged deal, claims seven cabinet ministers were behind the sale.

She also alleges a liquor baron has also shown interest in Vanxim Island, home to 55 families and a parish church.

Silveira along with several organizations supporting the campaign say Vanxim was sold for a "pittance."

They say they urged the Church in mid-August to scrap the deal to safeguard residents' interests.

Archdiocese spokesperson Father Francis Caldeira refused to comment.

The archdiocese "will issue a statement at the right time," he told ucanews.com on Aug. 23, a week after the controversy hit the headlines. It was still refusing to clarify the issue as of Aug. 31.

Vanxim was originally given to a group of Religious from Santa Monica convent in Old Goa during the Portuguese colonial period some 450 years ago. Families later took up residence on the island claiming to be tenants of the Church.

"I signed some papers in front of several government officials without understanding their contents, said Ermilinda Maitryes Fernandes.

The elderly woman refused to believe she would be evicted from her home. "We have faith in our priests," she said.

The archdiocese sold Vanxim because people "were grabbing property without showing any interest in buying it from the Church," said Manuel Furtado.

Father Victor Rodrigues, in-charge of Church property in the archdiocese has refused to speak to ucanews.com.

However, local media reported him saying the Church had not sold any land.

"The tenants sold land." Unoccupied land owned by the Church "has not been sold to anyone," he was quoted as saying.

Related reports
Goa Church wants changes in land law
Goa fort restoration upsets Catholics
Mining firm forced to stop Goan operations

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