ASI hears locals, government views on bylaws to protect Old Goa

OLD GOA: "Protect our livelihood" was the overwhelming feedback the archaeological survey of India (ASI) received on Monday as it met with stakeholders to discuss draft heritage bylaws to protect the World Heritage Site's churches and convents.

Prepared by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage way back in 2010, the bylaws were presented to Old Goa residents and representatives of the Church and the state government via a powerpoint presentation at ICAR.

ASI's regional director (South) D Dayalan told TOI, "We have received requests to protect the livelihood (from tourism), honour religious sentiments, and maintain the area's historical significance before finalizing the bylaws. We will consider these empathetically and meet the stakeholders again before finalizing and presenting the bylaws to the Centre."

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, requires heritage bylaws to be prepared for all centrally-protected monuments of the country.

At the meeting, Dayalan was told by Vishal Valvoikar, sarpanch, Se Old Goa, that the area should be exploited systematically for its rich cultural-and-religious-tourism potential. "Developmental activities should not be hampered by new laws," he warned.

Valerine Vaz, representing the Archdiocese of Goa, pointed out that the Church couldn't undertake even bare repairs as the agreement between it and ASI-being sought since 1968-is yet to materialize. "We need to know our rights and duties," Vaz stressed.

Both, Jaidev Sarangi, secretary, art and culture, and Narayan Navti, additional collector (North), felt better coordination between locals, government and ASI is required to ensure conservation and livelihood work in tandem.

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