While ASI protected monuments face the threat of encroachments by new constructions, the Archdiocesan Heritage Committee (AHC) is making a small effort to get the public involved in heritage conservation.
On Sunday, the Committee took a group of 30 interested Mumbaiites on a guided field-trip to the forts of Chaul and Korlai near Alibaug, but not with the sole intention of showing them the new bungalow defiling the Augustinian church.
“The aim was to help the public understand their history and heritage, so that they can react in a responsible way to issues related to conservation,” said committee member Father Warner D’Souza, who claimed he found three new bungalows within the fort on this visit.
Chaul, which has a 1,500-year-old history as a commercial port, was the committee’s first choice for a field trip.
“It was occupied by the Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims down the centuries, and then became the oldest Portuguese fort outside Goa,” said Father Larry Pereira, a historian specialising in church history, who believes that the ASI is not doing enough to control even the overgrowing plants within the fort ruins.
“We want these monuments preserved not because they are churches but because they are common heritage for all of us, irrespective of religion,” said D’Souza.
For 25-year-old Nathan Lobo, the field trip gave him the history lesson he was seeking. “It was part of my attempt to search for my roots,” he said.
“Only by creating such awareness will the public start caring for heritage,” said architect and conservationist Vikas Dilawari.