Christians in Meghalaya Decline $10 Million Grant

Published 01 February 2018  |  
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Churches in the Christian-majority state of Meghalaya have put down an offer from the Center's tourism ministry of a 613 million rupees ($10 million) grant for the facelift and maintenance of churches.

The Catholic leaders have clearly stated on Jan. 23 that they will not register for the aid package of 613 million rupees for landscaping, enhancements, construction of toilets and parking lots among other facilities work at 37 churches.

On Jan. 8, more than a week before India's Election Commission declaring Feb. 27 as the date of provincial elections in the northeastern state, union tourism minister K.J. Alphons announced the grant.

Christians account for about 80 percent of the three million people in Meghalaya. They are crucial for an election victory in the state.

However, the state Catholic leaders said the center's financial help ahead of elections in the state is not commended.

"First of all, we were never consulted on our needs, nor informed about the project. Three days after the announcement, no one from the government had contacted us on this, so there is no question of taking money from the government," Bishop Victor Lyngdoh of Jowai Diocese told ucanews.com.

The church "cannot take financial help now because it will give the wrong message to our people during this election time. It can create confusion," he said.

The church leadership fears the motive behind the central government's promises. So they have decided "to keep a distance from politics," he added.

"We have not applied for any financial assistance from the government for face-lifting of the Cathedral. The ongoing face-lifting is being carried out solely through the generous contributions of the faithful," read a statement issued by the Parish Pastoral Council of the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians on Jan. 19.

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