The Bureau was informed that the World Heritage Centre undertook a mission to Goa in January 1999 to develop a project proposal based on co-operation between the local authorities of Old Goa (India), Guimaraes (Portugal) and Brighton & Hove (UK) for submission to the European Union Asia Urbs Programme. During this mission, it was noted that while there is an important effort being made to conserve the individual monuments, the overall site is not cohesive, both visually and spatially. Widening of the roads, neglect of archaeological ruins and new spatial organization and landscaping have enclosed the individual monuments in garden squares which have no relation to the historic urban form, thereby making the site into a collection of monuments undermining the integrity of the site as a former port town.
Urgent conservation needs for Se’ Cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus and Church of St Francis of Assisi visited during the mission were noted, particularly the repair of moisture damaged wooden panels in order not to lose the art work (paintings and wood carving) on the panels.
An independent expert report subsequently received by the Centre noted grave concern over damage caused to some of the monuments due to the poor restoration work carried out with inappropriate material (concrete, synthetic paint, etc) in earlier years. While noting improvements in the more recent conservation work undertaken, the report stressed the need to enhance specialised training in material and architectural conservation. It is stressed the need to elaborate a comprehensive site management plan which would take into account a better presentation of the historic urban form of the site. Moreover, the report noted that the integrity and authenticity of the site would be seriously undermined if the planned project for the upgrading and extension of National Road No. 4 was implemented.
The Centre, upon consultations with the authorities of Old Goa, the State of Goa and locally-based experts of the Orient Foundation, among other institutions and non-governmental organizations, and in close collaboration with the local branch of the Archaeological Survey of India, prepared a project proposal for urban conservation and presentation. This proposal is now pending approval by the central government authorities prior to submission to donors. Subsequent discussions with the Portuguese Direction-General for National Monuments and Edifices (DGEMN) have resulted in a commitment of collaboration between the Centre and DGEMN to carry out an inventory of the site as the first step in elaborating a more coherent conservation management plan.
The Bureau, having been informed of the state of conservation of the property and efforts undertaken by the Secretariat in mobilizing financial and technical support, requested the State Party in collaboration with UNESCO and international conservation experts to: (a) make a thorough evaluation of the conservation needs of each monument, including conservation training requirements, (b) review the existing site development plan with a view to enhancing the coherence in the relationship between the monuments and its historic urban context, and (c) develop an integrated and multi-sectoral approach in the safeguarding and development of the site to ensure that public works to improve the network of necessary roads and utilities do not undermine the integrity of this World Heritage site. The Bureau requested the State Party to submit a report on the actions taken by 15 April 2000 for examination by the Bureau at its twenty-fourth session.