Guwahati, Apr 18: Asom government today finally declared that the &13;162-year-old Baptist Church here will not be disturbed for the construction of &13;the proposed multi-storeyed parking lot in the heart of the city.
This &13;statement has finally brought the long-standing controversy over the city &13;development authority's move to vacate the heritage Church to an end.
In &13;the statement issued here, the state government candidly stated that there was &13;no such move to covert the 162-year-old Baptist Church into a parking lot. &13;The Council of Baptist Churches in North East India(CBCNEI) earlier told &13;the media that a notice was served by the government in mid-February stating &13;that the Kamrup(Metro) district administration and the Guwahati Metropolitan &13;Development Authority(GMDA) have identified some vacant locations in the CBCNEI &13;compound and requested the Council to hand over the entire plot to the &13;development authority for the proposed car parking.
The CBCNEI said the &13;notice stated that the government promised to make alternative arrangements for &13;shifting the existing building and the GMDA would pay for the cost of &13;alternative arrangement.
The issue was gradually snow-balling into a &13;major controversy with opposition parties, including the BJP, regional Asom Gana &13;Parishad and Asom Gana Parishad(Pragatisheel) demanding withdrawal of the &13;government move to vacate the heritage Church complex.
The entire &13;Christian community in the Northeast had reacted very strongly against the &13;move.
The Baptist Church's Asom connection dates back to early part of &13;the 19th century. It was instrumental in safeguarding the interests of the &13;Assamese language that was on the verge of extinction when the then British &13;rulers had imposed Bengali as the official language in the state.
The &13;American Baptist Mission, which arrived in the then undivided Asom in 1836 is &13;credited with the launch of the first Assamese newspaper 'Orunodoi' in January &13;1846.