Herald: Margao’s heritage homes facing threat
Herald News

Margao’s heritage homes facing threat

02 Dec 2017 06:07am IST

Report by
NESHWIN ALMEIDA

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02 Dec 2017 06:07am IST

Report by
NESHWIN ALMEIDA

Leave a comment

Architectural homes built during the Portuguese regime in Margao are slowly being replaced by commercial buildings. NESHWIN ALMEIDA meets architects and citizens and gets their say on these heritage homes

Homes built during the Portuguese regime have been facing a threat continuously off late. From our towns to villages these homes with a unique architecture and of stone and lime are slowly dwindling and being replaced by buildings and commercial complexes. Margao itself, which has a heritage zone, is also under a threat with people slowly finding means to pull down their dwellings of many generations to erect modern structures.

A recent picture by well known architect Bruce Fernandes of old Portuguese home at Majorda to be ready for demolition to make way for a building was the talk on social media. While the architect himself appreciating construction an architecture, the windows and panes, the façade and limestone of these buildings and asking Goans to maintain such structures and wondering what the government could do to save these beautiful homes. But the thread to the same discussion brought people talking about maintenance and the kind of money required to be invested in the woodwork and maintenance of these stone and lime structures.

“These buildings come with high walls because they lack pillars and the support is on these walls. Each wall is about ten feet tall and at least 15 feet wide. The cost to repair one square foot of an ancestral home costs Rs 430 including cement and sand while the cost of labour is even more while all those costs shoot up further if it’s a question of stucco limestone finish,” explains Inderjeet Kamat who’s well known for renovating Goan architectural homes of the Portuguese-era in Margao.

Inderjeet shows us calculations of plaster, woodwork, carpentry and maintenance and makes us understand that a spread of just 700 sq mts costs Rs 15 lakh to renovate while that cost will shoot up to even Rs 35 lakh to redo a slab and eliminate the woodwork of the ceiling that invites termites and further damage.

“There are a lot factors in renovation and maintaining heritage. If it’s a single dwelling owned a by single family its fine. But if your family is abroad and travelling and then issues of inheritance and who maintains is a question and also it’s one’s love for heritage and what you inherit,” stated noted historian Valmiki Faleiro.

Valmiki also ascertains that often changes in the neighbourhood, migrations, setting up of commercial buildings and people who move in around you will often put pressure on whether you want to spend that kind of money to maintain or not.

While Razer Joannes, who inherited a beautiful home from his grand uncle and has spent over Rs 50 lakh on maintenance and renovations and now gives out his home for homestay, rues that the government does way too little to help maintain heritage homes.

“Matanhy Saldanha has proposed a scheme during his short stint as Tourism Minister and promised loans to help people maintain their heritage homes and create homestays but that scheme was never introduced by his wife Alina as minister and till date there is very little assistance for maintaining heritage homes,” explains Joe Luis Costa from Betalbatim who says maintaining a heritage home is getting impossible without government support.

A recent social media post of Prajal Sakardhande highlighting the historic Pinto Revolt home where the Pinto Priests conspired to overthrow the Portuguese and his highlight of the bad condition of the home and subsequently coming up for demolition also brought in a lot of reactions and ire from the general public similar to a post of Wendell Rodricks wherein Ana Karina Costa who welcomed her Goan origin Portuguese Prime Minister cousin but she stated that “unless the government assists in maintaining such homes, I don’t think people can be blamed for pulling down theirs with lack of funds.”

“When people are abroad there’s also a fear of the home and land being usurped and many times people with Portuguese passport in the UK come home and to beat the land mafia they demolish their old homes and build massive gated bungalows which are another reason for decline in heritage in the South and part of North Goa,” stated property and inventory lawyer Joao Pereira Costa.

While dentist Dr Michelle Pereira from Margao who has renovated her home for travellers and home stays explains to us that you won’t do it unless you’re passionate about one especially if you’ve grown up in one.

“There’s work in these homes indoors and outdoors and maintenance and I have full time couple for that and all that is huge cost but I am willing to spend for that to maintain my heritage and architecture I have,” explains Dr Michelle.


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