In Goa, Asia's first gunpowder factory being razed

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PANAJI, Goa, India -- Goan heritage activists are fighting a battle to save [the 16th-century site of] Asia's first gun powder factory at Ribander, a sleepy town, dotting capital city of Panaji in this erstwhile Portuguese colony.

"A huge commercial complex is taking shape on the site where this gun powder factory existed. What's paining is that the site is neglected by state archives and archeology department and nothing is being done to stop it," historian Prajal Sakhardande, a member of Goa Heritage Action Group, stated...

Much like many firsts associated with Goa, the gun powder factory too is the first one which according to the historians used to supply gun powder to Malacca (now part of Malaysia), Muscat, Mozambique, the East African Coast besides various forts in Goa and Diu during Portuguese rule.

"The factory, just 3 km away from heritage monuments of Old Goa, had negro slaves and buffaloes being used to work as its machinery," Sakhardande stated.

Called Casa de Polvora, the factory was brought to Goa during early 16th century in Adil Shah regime, Sakhardande said. After shifting to few places, finally it was placed at Ribander in 1630 by Portuguese government, he adds. [It was closed in 1869.]

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