Grotesque art installations placed around Panaji and total concretisation of the Salvador Souza garden are just some of the many projects taken up by the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation to beautify the capital city under various programmes including Smart City Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme and so on. However, the efforts seem to lack the sense of aesthetics and have resulted in visuals turning eyesore for citizens as well as visitors to the city.
Installations of life-sized animals such as bison, horse, rooster, and so on, besides images of large heads have been placed in various city locations, right from Altinho to Miramar. However, they have failed to generate appreciation from the citizens in general.
City mayor Surendra Furtado said the GSIDC had sought NOCs from the Corporation of the City of Panaji for placing these installations, without revealing their details.
“It subsequently received the area-wise NOCs during the tenure of former CCP commissioner Dipak Desai,” he added, maintain that the CCP has absolutely no role in this project.
Unhappy over the kind of installations placed around the city, Furtado said the four heads placed on a footpath at Miramar is hindering the movement of the people.
“Furthermore, four pillars have been constructed near the Panaji ferry wharf, probably for erecting another installation,” he maintained, retorting as to whether the Coastal Zone Regulation norms are not application for such a city beautification project.
managing director of GSIDC Srinet Kothwale stated that the installations are being placed around the city under a very old proposal of city beautification. He also revealed that the particular garden, which was earlier slated to be developed as a rose garden under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Fund scheme is now renovated under the AMRUT scheme.
Coming out with more details about this old proposal, Minister for Art and Culture, Govind Gaude said the department of art and culture has a number of art installations in its possession, which had resulted out of a contest earlier announced by the department.
“These installations had cost the department a lot of money, around Rs 40 to Rs 50 lakh, and therefore, it was not proper to just store them in a go-down,” he observed, informing that hence some of them designed by artists from Goa as well as Bangalore were handed over to GSIDC for city beautification.
It was also informed that the department of art and culture will inspect the installations placed in the city later this week.
Shantaram Naik, who during his tenure as the Rajya Sabha MP, had made available funds under the MPLAD scheme for converting the Salvador Souza garden into rose garden stated that the work for the same had already started, and he had visited the garden on three occasions to supervise the work.
“However, I have no idea when the plan to develop the place into a rose garden was dropped,” he added.
The city mayor, who had laid the foundation stone for the development of the rose garden, stated that the GSIDC has now taken over the project and that the CCP has been kept in total darkness over the project.
Incidentally, former city MLA Sidharth Kunkalienkar, who is also the vice-chairman of the GSIDC, has some time ago informed that Salvador Souza garden would now include a small memorial as a tribute to those who had laid down their lives during the Pinto Revolt against Portuguese rule in Goa in 1787.
He had also maintained that plans of developing a rose garden had been dropped as the city does not provide adequate environment to growth of roses.
A number of citizens, when asked to give feedback to these art installations as well as garden development, expressed their displeasure towards lack of city development plan.
“I think the authorities had prepared a number of city development plans, including master plans, from the days of ‘Imagine Panaji’ concept. However, none of them could be actually implemented, and now we really can’t imagine what Panaji would look like after they complete scattering these ugly installations around the city,” said a senior city resident, who has been staying in the capital city for over half-a-decade.
Another lady resident from the city maintained that the government had done a good job by constructing the new municipal market. “However, after that, it failed to maintain the same, and has now placed this hideous rooster at its entrance, which more than anything looks like a piece of scrap,” she observed.
Reacting to the concretisation of the Salvador Souza garden, noted horticulturist Miguel Braganza said that gardens should be open spaces, where children can run freely and play.
“Concrete structures, installations, benches, statues and art forms looks good in apartments,” he remarked, pointing out that the gardens should not be converted into apartments, where children can’t move freely.
A retired scientist from a national science institution who resides in the capital city said the government has no right to make additions to the concretisation of the city.
“The city is already polluted by the heavy traffic of vehicles, and we need to grow more trees, especially in gardens,” he maintained, retorting, ”However, what we see is the government replacing gardens with concrete structures.”
With the capital city facing a barrage of beautification projects in the form of installations and concretisation, one seriously hopes that it doesn’t suffer an ‘art attack’ soon.