Religious structure sparks controversy at Santa Cruz


The construction of a religious structure in close vicinity of a cross near the GMC has sparked off a controversy in Santa Cruz.
While around 60 residents have complained about the structure with the Santa Cruz Panchayat, the panchayat has served a stop-work order notice to the temple committee.
 The advisor to the temple committee has admitted that the construction had no permission, but claimed that they were only constructing a structure for the benefit of devotees during the rains.
Speaking to Herald, Ward Panch Vincent Lourenco said the religious structure is in gross violation of the Supreme Court directives, which has clearly forbidden construction of religious structures within 25 metres of a highway.
“Further, the construction activity is coming up very close to a Cross which is existing for decades,” he said and added that it is likely to cause communal disharmony in the area.
“The structure lies in close vicinity to the GMC and is likely to cause a nuisance as loud music is played whenever there is any religious function,” he informed, while stating that a complaint has also been filed with the BDO and TCP officials to take action in the matter.
When contacted, Sarpanch Tony Fernandes informed Herald that the panchayat had received a complaint from Constancio Botelho and other villagers against the alleged controversial construction near the GMC.
“We conducted a site inspection on Friday and directed the Devasthan members to stop the construction work,” he said and added that the Devasthan members went ahead with the construction and laid a slab between Saturday and Sunday.
Fernandes further informed that the panchayat has now served a stop-work order notice to the temple committee members and will take legal recourse in the matter.
When contacted, ZP member and advisor to the Maruti Devasthan Adv Suresh Palkar said there is no clarity in the complaint made by the villagers, as it does not specify whether it is a hindrance to the Cross or whether it is a hindrance to public or whether it is a land dispute.
“Further, the complaint states that the land is acquired from the Cujira Comunidade by the government, while the Comunidade members are claiming that the land belongs to them,” he added.
“First, let the land ownership be proved and then only will we take further action,” he informed, while stating that the Devasthan committee members are ready to resolve grievances, if any, with the Cross committee members.
When asked whether they have any permission for the construction, Palkar replied in the negative, but said they are only constructing a structure so that devotees can pay their obeisance even during the rains.
On the notice served by the panchayat, Palkar said the notice was pasted at night, which itself is surprising. “However, we are ready with the reply and we will submit it very soon,” he said. [H]