Church leaders in Goa are upset over a federal government plan to offer ancient religious sites to private companies for maintenance under its new “Adopt a Heritage” tourism project.
The project launched last September by the government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), plans to entrust heritage sites across India to private firms for the development of tourist amenities.
Six heritage sites in former Portuguese colony Goa, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus that holds the remains of St Francis Xavier, have been listed for adoption but the state government was not consulted, local media reported.
The state government, which is also run by the BJP, has been kept completely in the dark about the plan, state Archives Minister Vijai Sardesai said.
Sites in Old Goa, the 16th century Portuguese capital, are assets of the state, and the church has to be taken into confidence, he said.
Church leaders are equally upset after learning about the plan from the media.
“It pains me to know that our religious monuments are in danger of being privatized, reducing significantly their universal ownership,” said Father Victor Ferrao, professor of philosophy at Rachol Major Seminary.