100 year old St. Anthony's Chapel along with 200 year old Trees are on the verge of getting razed. Images Google

The demolition of any sort of properties coming into the development process is inevitable, but when the question of demolition something that is related to the God and that too which is 100 years old comes in, it can become an issue of major controversy. The St. Anthony’s Chapel situated in Colvale is on its way to get demolished due to the new Highway Expansion Plans, now that is something which is bound to become the issue of a major controversy.

According to a report published by the Times of India over 100-year-old chapel dedicated to St Anthony in Colvale village is facing demolition for the ongoing highway expansion work in the state.

The village residents, led by fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, have petitioned the President of India, the Prime Minister and the chief minister on Thursday, seeking that the highway widening is realigned to save the chapel from demolition.

There is a huge opposition for the demolition process of the Chapel and around 57 residents of Colvale have produced an agreement signed in the year 1928 and testimonies by two local residents in their 90s to prove that the chapel has existed for more than a century.

According to the sources, the villagers of Colvale have earlier also sacrificed their land for several other Government Projects such as Colvale industrial development corporation, housing board, central jail, central power grid, irrigation canal and staff quarters and for the previous as well as the current highway expansion.

Till date around 2.4 Lakh sqmt land has been taken over by the state and central government for various government projects said the sources.

Mr. Rodregues is not happy the way the entire thing is been carried out by the government. He said that despite giving away their village land for development projects, the authorities failed to discuss the decision to demolish the chapel.      

In the petition, Rodricks has said that demolition of St Anthony Chapel is “illegal and in violation of the Supreme Court’s order that a religious structure over 100 years old cannot be destroyed. This ruling was enforced after the Babri Masjid demolition”.    

The villagers have asked for President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to realign the highway and create a flyover on Y-shaped columns and an underpass at the St Anthony Chapel junction so that the religious structure is saved.   

“At the same time, can you please ensure a noise-free corridor with screens so that the villagers can sleep and live in peace. A Y-shaped column flyover will also save many existing homes that are over 200 years old,” Rodricks, a Padma Shri awardee, has said.

The villagers have said that when the Colvale land was acquired for previous central and state government projects, garbage management and cleaning facilities were not provided. They also said that the highway through the village was designed in such a manner that it endangers the lives of locals.

“With the highway cutting the village in half without a bypass, our villagers, youth and elderly cannot cross the village due to life-threatening traffic (we have lost lives of children and seniors or who have been seriously injured).

The villagers have to wait at the highways to cross over to go to the temple, church, and school, which are now on both sides of the highway,” says the letter.

There is a vast development going on across the state and many fields and homes have been razed out to make way to new development, this chapel could also be one of them unless the court decides in the favor of the villagers. 

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