Catholic body seeks Mah CM's intervention over Sahar Church issue

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Mumbai, Dec 9 (UNI) Stepping up pressure on the Maharashtra government over the Sahar Church issue, city-based Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) and vice-chairman of the state Minorities Commission Dr Abraham Mathai met Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and presented a memorandum seeking his intervention.

The Forum alleged that Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) has written to the Additional Collector of Mumbai Suburban District, seeking acquisition of 436 plots in Sahar village that includes 400-year-old 'Our Lady of Health Church', for the proposed expansion of the Mumbai airport.

A CSF delegation, along with Mr Mathai, met Mr Deshmukh on Friday in this regard and sought his intervention.

The Forum has resolved to take up the issue with all those concerned at the Central and state level and has started presenting memorandums to leaders of different political parties, a CSF statement said today.

According to the the CSF general secretary Joseph Dias, a number of places of worship, religious and educational institutions and burial or cremation grounds come under the proposed expansion.

The Heritage Church was first to be served the notice, the memorandum said adding that the culture and traditional heritage of the East Indian community, was threatened.

The CSF memorandum highlights a fact finding report, compiled after meeting Fr Allwyn D'souza of the Sahar Church, Godfrey Pimenta and Nicholas Almeida of the Sahar Citizens Forum, Gordon D'souza - East Indian activist, local residents and experts.

The memorandum also demanded that the proposal be scrapped in toto, particularly, since a new airport is proposed in Navi Mumbai and in view of the religious sentiments involved.

UNI

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