Saturday 20 Jul 2024

Losing sight of plans to restore two heritage sites in Vasco

VIKRAM NAYAK | MARCH 20, 2024, 11:36 PM IST
Losing sight of plans to restore   two heritage sites in Vasco

A file photo of Mormugao MLA Sankalp Amonkar and Minister Subhash Phaldessai carrying out a joint inspection at Mormugao Fort on July 24, 2023.

Mormugao constituency has been blessed with not one but two heritage sites, the Mormugao fort and the Viceregal Palace, but locals can only see them from afar as both sites are under the control of the Mormugao Port Authority (MPA).

The government had pushed for plans to restore the Mormugao fort and the Viceregal Palace to develop both sites as tourism destinations, but there has been little progress so far.

While the fort is accessible once a year and locals celebrate Shiv Jayanti at the site, the Viceregal Palace ro Old Palace Hotel – reportedly the oldest standing non-religious building in Mormugao, which was constructed sometime between 1702 and 1705 – is totally closed and access to the site is guarded by the CISF through the port gate. Only port users with passes can have a glimpse of the site.

However, the MPA has been reluctant to grant public access to the sites by citing security reasons in a sensitive installation.

On July 24, 2023, hopes had been raised among locals when Archaeology Minister Subhash Phaldessai carried out a joint inspection with local MLA Sankalp Amonkar and MPA officials

Phaldessai had stated at the time that both heritage structures would be restored and access would be made available to locals.

"The MPA has encroached the heritage fort area and access is denied to locals. The fort which is the property of Archaeology department will be restored, preserved and beautified. I will speak to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to find a balance way to get access to fort without breaching the security of MPA,” Phaldessai had said.

The minister had event stated that the government would ask the MPA to hand over the fort to the archaeology department for restoration.

Phaldessai had also stated that the Viceregal palace was in very bad shape without any maintenance after being taken over by MPA.

“The heritage site needs to be restored. I will explore the possibility of restoring the Viceregal palace to its former glory after taking MPA into confidence and open the site for public to know the history of Goa,” he had said.

Mormugao MLA Sankalp Amonkar had said the Mormugao fort, if developed as a tourism spot, could attract a lot of domestic and international tourists arriving in the port by cruise ships and it would also generate employment to locals in the area.

Amonkar had even suggested at the time that separate gates be provided for access to these sites, if required through the South Goa Collector’s office, to ensure unrestricted access to the sites.

When Amonkar was contacted on Tuesday to enquire if he was losing sight of plans to restore 2 heritage sites in Vasco, he said the matter was in the discussion stages.

“The restoration and re-development of both heritage sites in my constituency are my top priority. I have addressed the issue at various levels and even spoken to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, besides raising the issue in the assembly,” said Amonkar.

“We also had a series of meeting and joint inspections along with port officials. I am continuously following up on this project. I am sure the matter will be resolved before the next Shiv Jayanti celebrations and people will then have unrestricted access to both these heritage sites, which can subsequently be developed as tourism spots.”

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