Panaji: Although it has served as a convenient place of stay for Goans since the 1970s, the diaspora now wants the crumbling Goa Sadan to be put to adaptive reuse. Proposals to convert the heritage building into a cultural resource centre are currently doing the rounds.
Goa Sadan, standing in a quieter spot at 18, Amrita Shergill Marg still continues to be a guesthouse for Goans, but construction of the new ground-plus-three Goa Niwas at Chanakyapuri has reduced the pressure on it.
“This centre can help build a bridge between diverse sections of civil society by promoting relations in cultural, social and institutional fields. A deeper awareness of our culture can help command better respect and understanding for the Goan community,” said president of Goenkarancho Ekvott Suman Kurade.
The 14-room building was officially purchased by the Goa government from the Duggal family in 1975 and converted into a guest house. “The building is a confluence of the colonial and Art Deco architectural features,” says architect Annabel Lopez.
The edifice is now showing signs of decay and neglect. For nearly four decades, the three suites on the first floor were occupied by the governor, chief minister and a minister when they visited the capital city. The rooms and dormitory on ground floor were provided for Goan visitors and officers.
Goenkarancho Ekvott, a cultural organization serving a few thousand Goans in New Delhi, has petitioned the state government to restore and refurbish it.
“It is the right time to establish Goa’s presence in the nation’s capital as a region that endured a different, and longer, period of colonialism,” states a memorandum submitted to the state government.
The organization will seek a grant from the state and Indian council for cultural relations, ministry of culture, government of India if the proposal to set up the centre is approved. “The facade will not be altered nor the footprint increased. Only the interior will be remodelled to facilitate various events and activities,” the association has assured.
The grant is expected to cover the cost of conserving the edifice and maintaining it for five years. “Revenue-generating activities, such as setting up a restaurant and exhibition centre/art gallery are planned,” Kurade said.
The resource centre aims at undertaking a range of activities with a focus on key cultural aspects. The setting up of a library, to study Goan culture, and an information desk, to help people visiting the state, are some of the objectives of the centre.
More than 4,000 Goans have settled in Delhi and parts of adjoining states, who are employed in profressional services.
“Delhi and the NCR lack a resource centre for information on Goa, it’s culture and heritage. For the Goan diaspora, especially the younger generation, it will help to connect with their roots. In addition, it will also promote Goan tourism and interest in the state among the local Indian community who are showing an increasing interest to vacation in Goa,” says Maria Fatima Pais, a communications specialist in New Delhi.