Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude lashed out at the Charles Correa Foundation for questioning the ongoing renovation work of the Kala Academy, asking who is the Charles Correa Foundation to dictate terms to the government. The minister went on to point out to the ‘faulty design’ of the Kala Academy, that was conceived by Charles Correa, for the current situation of the structure and also sought to who are CCF to interfere into government work and whether it was their private property.
The minister was reacting to the Charles Correa Foundation demanding transparency in the repair and renovation work of Kala Academy and their claim that there has been discussion of making arbitrary changes to the flooring of Kala Academy, which the foundation claimed will make the lobby spaces dark, dingy and uninviting thereby altering one of the key features of the beautiful structure. The foundation had further charged that there seems to be little consideration to the principles of conservation which are necessary for any repair/renovation work. It was in response to this that the minister asked whether it was the foundation’s private property.
On the question of who is the Charles Correa Foundation to interfere in government work, it is pertinent to go back to a discussion on the renovation works that took place in the Assembly in July 2019. At that time, then Congress MLA Pratapsingh Rane had recalled that there was an understanding between the Charles Correa Foundation and the government whereby the former would be consulted before any decision on the structure would be taken. Based on this, the Charles Correa Foundation therefore does have every right to be seeking transparency in the works. The foundation had also offered its help when the renovation works were being planned and this is not the first time that the Charles Correa Foundation and the government have got in dispute over the renovation of the iconic structure.
The government should have been welcoming consultations and incorporating ideas that would improve the structure renovation work. The queries raised by the Charles Correa Foundation have remained unanswered. A little transparency would not hurt anybody. The renovation work at the estimated cost of Rs 50 crore has crossed its dead line, and it still not clear whether it will meet the new deadline of August this year.
For all purposes, the Kala Academy is a government structure and its renovation is being undertaken paid for by the people’s taxes, and so the people have the right to know how the money is being utilised. The Charles Correa Foundation, on behalf of the people of Goa has the right to ask these questions. The response from the government should have been positive. The bottom line is that the Kala Academy is a beautiful structure, a rare building that blends with the surroundings so brilliantly, so its renovation should under no circumstances interfere with the design elements. It should be restored and strengthened so that it remains erect for not just a few more decades, but centuries.
What every Goan wants is that the renovated Kala Academy retain its unique architectural style, while providing improved facilities that did not exist in the 1970s when it was conceived. It has to be restored, given a new lease of life, modernised in elements of sound, lighting and theatre. The final outcome should be an improved structure with better facilities. That is what is being sought. This has to be delivered, keeping aside all differences that may have arisen over the past months.