Thursday 24 July 2014

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Goa's heritage houses becoming extinct

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In the absence of legal protection, Goa’s heritage buildings are giving way for multi storey plazas ostensibly losing the character of this state known for its Indo-Portuguese architectural marvels.

The recent bid to demolish a building, adjacent to the Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) -- a local civic body, has once again raised concerns about the state losing its identity.

"We have been lobbying hard to save these buildings but many a times we can't help. Without legal protection bulldozer razed them down within no time," Prajal Sakhardande, a historian and active member of Goa Heritage Action Group (GHAG), said.

"There are around 1,000 heritage monuments, including buildings listed in Panaji city itself," he claims.   

GHAG had listed these monuments in association with CCP but now without legal protection to these structures even the civic body is reluctant to stop the demolitions.

"They have to be notified to be saved from demolition. We are tying our level best to convince people not to raze down heritage structures but legally we can't stop them if documents are in order," city Mayor Caroline Po reacted.

Built on Mandovi river bank, Panaji city is one of the best architectural wonders. City's few quaint corners like Fountainhas has always been a big draw for tourists and recently film shootings.

Few buildings which have crossed 150 years of their lifespan are standing tall here. "The structures which are over 100 years are listed as heritage and enjoys special protection under the local act," Sakhardande said.

"Lot of people when they come here they want to feel culture of the place. They want to feel a bit of history," Ajit Sukhija, owner of three heritage properties, said.

Sukhija has converted his ancestral house dating back to 1880 into a heritage hotel Panjim Inn in the locality of Fountainhas. "This was a unique Catholic family house which is converted into hotel keeping in tact its value. People checking in feels the culture," he said.

Incident grandson of Jack Sequiera, Goa's legendry personality who fought campaign against Goa's merger with Maharashtra post-liberation, also has purchased an Old Hindu house and converted it into a heritage property.

"Of the total clients 80 per cent are foreigners and rest Indians," he said adding that ``the craze to know about local culture during their vacations is also on increase amongst the domestic crowd.''

Sukhija says he receives visitors from United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia and Italy, who are left spellbound with the legacy of this place.

"If you go to Fountaihas, you will find foreigners with guide book in their hand loitering around the locality just to see the architecture," Sakhardande said.

"Fountainhas has Indo-Portuguese architectural style painted in Maroon, Indigo or Ocher," he stated.

The locality also houses St Sebastian Chapel built in 1818.

Heritage activists from the city had to fight a long battle to save building which once housed Asia's first ever medical college.

"The state government wanted to demolish the building before 2004 when International Film Festival of India (IFFI) came to Goa. We stopped it after meeting then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar who responded positively for our plea," Sakhardande said.

He said that once again sometimes around 2005-06, there was plan to hand over this building to a international firm to be converted into a mall.

"We received support from all quarters including doctors and other professionals who forced the government to rethink on its plans," he added.

The building right now houses entertainment society of Goa, a host for International film festival of India (IFFI).






Total Comments :5

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nice to see some people concern bout the real beauty in goa should come up with measures tinsaving the natural look of Goa

 
joe , mapusa

Ya you are right SRK ...What a pity?...........we cannot save our heritage buildings? Govt. Should act promptly to save this heritage landmarks at any cost.

 
Nilesh Shetgaonkar , Morjim

This is really sad that there is no law for protection of heritage buildings. Govt. should immediately do it on lines of similar acts all over India.

 
SHRINIWAS KHALAP , NEW DELHI

Truly said dear friend Emediavoices the heritage, culture and the Goan traditions are already on the way to extinction and specially with the migrant influx comes in a different type of heritage. All this is caused by the silly and crooked ministers to fill in their vote banks. If we do not act now everything will be lost. Our beautiful architecture has almost vanished and instead one can find structures full of RED ROUND STAMPS, official stamp of Pan eaters everywhere and the tourists with books can most certainly find a Goa not green any longer but red. Those old houses and fine are being razed and this should be stopped, forcefully if necessary. There are elements who do not like the Portuguese influence in Goa but they forget that it was and is because of this influence we the Goans are respected world wide unlike the rest of the country. Everybody is out to destroy our ancestory and their heritage. Too sad and too bad! God save our Goan heritage – Menino(Valpoi)

 
Menino G. P. T. Fernandes (Valpoi/UK) , United Kingdom of Great Britain

Whom to Blame my dear Goa? Are you not to be ironed out? The heritage along with culture will disappear and Goans will lament years later walking on the footpaths.Today the East Indian community cries in silence in Mumbai. Goans too will face the same fate and why heritage to blame alone even the culture will vaporize. Imagine how scare the land of Goa will be for Goans with increase in population. Farming area will disappear and then imagine the catastrophe which will be ahead for the next generation.

 
Emediavoices , Goa

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