Saturday, May 19, 2007

An example from Kolkata

Kolkata has set an example to the bulldozer-happy Christian priests of Kerala. The World Monuments Fund (WMF) in collaboration with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is set to revive the facade of the St. John’s Church in Kolkata (built in 1787) at an estimated coat of Rs.3.8 millions.

Others involved in the project are Action Research in Conservation of Heritage (ARCH) and the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs, Government of West Bengal. A report in The Hindu of May 11 states that this is being done “so that it serves as a catalyst for similar rejuvenation projects in the future.

But obviously the message doesn’t get through to Ramapuram, Kerala, where the Vicar and his people are planning to proceed with the demolition of the historic twin churches (see Churches on demolition line.) against the laws of the land and the reported opposition of the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church, Cardinal Vithayathil.

To overcome the Kerala Government’s directive not to alter the structure of the twin churches, the Vicar is playing the religious card. He is reportedly circulating a letter to the parishioners stating that if the Government declares the buildings as protected monuments, they would not be able to conduct prayers and religious activities there.

“It is a blatant lie”, cries The New Indian Express of May 3. The report goes on to say, “It has been well-clarified in the law that the department [of Archeology] does not interfere in the activities which are held at a structure which has been declared a protected monument. Its concern is only in the upkeep of the structure.”

I had said pretty much the same thing in my post Back to the twin churches.


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