A dilapidated wall of an old Portuguese house collapsed on account of continuous heavy rains, near the Fontainhas area of Panaji city. The same was declared a ‘danger to the public’ earlier, but no action was taken to avoid any such accident. Corporation of City of Panaji (CCP) Mayor Uday Madkaikar and the Mamlatdar of Tiswadi Rahul Dessai visited the site at Fontainhas and the Mayor said that he has complained to the North Goa Collector about the same.
Mayor Uday also added that the CCP cannot directly demolish structures unless proper directions are given from the Collector. “Firstly, these are the old house, and we don’t have the right to demolish anyone’s house. The Collector will issue orders under the Disaster Management,” he said.
This comes days after a Portuguese-era building collapsed near Azad Maidan in the capital city itself. This, in turn, damaged Prakash lodge and café, which was a prime spot in the city for everyone to catch a quick break.
However, these are just among many of the old structures that have been left in the dark by the authorities. This brings to light the larger question, as to when will authorities wake up and take action on structures that are weak and on the verge of collapsing.
Portuguese time structures are widely seen along the streets of Panaji, and many residents have come forward and complained to authorities regarding these that can collapse at any moment. They do not just pose a danger to the people passing around, but also have high possibilities of damaging adjacent houses along the roads.
Proper maintenance of these old buildings also meets a hurdle as most of these structures have issues of disputed ownership. Also, owners refuse permissions to undertake repairs or any other renovation work.
The old Margao Municipality building near the old market area also stands on risky soil, with many urging the concerned authorities to undertake the proper restoration of the same at the earliest.
Active citizens have also highlighted the importance of these structures that date back to Portuguese times and give the city its rich appeal. “Panaji city is very evident of the marriage of the East and the West. This special connection has provided us with a beautiful culture, architecture and rich heritage. All these gives characteristics to the place and the people living here,” said a local resident.
Dulcio De Mello, an architecture student pointed out that old structures within the city need to maintain. He said, “The ignorance to maintain the old structures and construct modern ‘soul-less’ buildings are really disturbing. Things have to change, and change quickly if we want to keep these treasures for the future.”