KALA ACADEMY IN SHAMBLES!

SHODDY: Shoddy construction by contractors from outside Goa has led to the collapse of the roof of the open-air auditorium of the Kala Academy.in the birth rate.

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday when the roof of the open-air auditorium at the capital city Panaji’s prestigious and much loved Kala Academy collapsed. For a Saturday following the week when Vishwajit Rane sabotaged the creation of a tiger sanctuary for Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the monsoon session of the Goa assembly commenced on time. For a Saturday following the week when Balrath buses went on strike. For a Saturday following the week when the entire film industry came to a halt as actors, scriptwriters, photographers and other employees went on strike. For a Saturday following the week when the latest edition of IFFI coming up in November began with entries sought for the popular Panorama section.

KALA ACADEMY WOES
AND a few stray thoughts on the collapsed roof of the open-air auditorium of the Kala Academy. The renovation of the prestigious and historical Kala Academy started more than three years ago. Original designers Charles Correa Foundation was appointed as the consultants. The demand for renovation started with reports of leakages in the main indoor Dinanath Mangeshkar auditorium during the monsoon months. Suddenly the capital smart city’s most popular cultural and tiatr venue became out of bounds for its users.
Time dragged on in sossegad fashion as it happens in Goa and the Kala Academy was not repaired, renovated and are furbished even for the IFFI of 2022. While the outdoor auditorium was not in the best of shape it did not require expensive renovation. In fact, putting in a concrete slab on the uncovered portion of the outdoor auditorium was a mistake.
For on Monday, July 17, 2023 the entire roof slab of the outdoor auditorium collapsed following the heavy gala rains. Goa’s Minister of Culture Gopal Gawde said the structure is 43 years old. A judicial enquiry has been demanded into the collapse of the entire slab covering the roof of the open-air auditorium.
We remember the Kala Academy was the brainchild of the first prime minister of Goa, Bhausaheb Dayanand Bandodkar. It was built on reclaimed land for at that time the sea used to wash up right up to Jack Sequeira’s bungalow across today’s Campal promenade road or officially Dayanand Bandodkar Marg. The Bandodkar road itself came much later.
The first director of the Kala Academy was Damu Kenkre. He was a noted artist and choreographer from Mumbai. The All India Hotel Federation had decided to hold its annual general body meeting in Goa and the Kala Academy was asked to present its choir for the inaugural performance. Damu Kenkre composed the masterpiece with appropriate costumes but Vijaya Devi Rane, imperial wife of the then CM Pratapsingh Raoji Rane, interfered with the composition. She wanted the costumes of the dancers participating in the choir to be green, saffron and white, so that they would look like the national flag of the country.
Damu Kenkre was outraged and refused to carry out the orders of Vijaya Devi and he was promptly sacked by the Chief Minister Pratapsingh Raoji Rane. Pratapsingh Raoji Rane’s argument was that his wife should have right to decide the costumes of the choir performers.
I had just come to Goa then to take up the challenge of editing the English “OHeraldo” newspaper and Damu Kenkre came to me with a sad story of how he was sacked. I wrote a front-page story in “OHeraldo” on how the colour of a saree shattered an artist’s dream presentation. Pratapsingh Raoji Rane was so arrogant that he asked the patrao (proprietor) of “OHeraldo” to sack me. To which my patrao’s response to Rane was that he did not pay my salary.

NO TIGERS IN GOA PLEASE!
AND a few stray thoughts on Forests Minister Vishwajit Rane sabotaging the creation of a tiger sanctuary in Goa. There has been a vociferous demand for a tiger sanctuary in Goa to save the Mhadei-Mandoavi river which campaign is now more than two decades old. There have been several sightings of tigers in Sattari taluka but as far as we recall there have been no casualties. The tiger sanctuary in Goa would could have served as a corridor to the Mhadei and Netravali sanctuaries. At this stage it is very important to demand and secure a tiger sanctuary. If a tiger sanctuary is sanctioned it would become more impossible for Karnataka to divert the headwaters of the Mhadei river flowing into the Mandovi river basin.
Most Goan environmentalists fighting for the right of the Mhadei-Mandovi river waters believe that Vishwajit Rane manipulated the Wildlife Board to project the wildlife sanctuary. Padmashri Norma Alvares of the Goa Foundation called Vishwajit Rane to convince him about the need for a tiger sanctuary in Goa but Vishwajit Rane told her that he although he favored tigers the local people were afraid of them. There was no room for any section as the forest department to create separate enclosures to prevent tigers from encroaching on residential areas and farms in his Sattari taluka.
It is ironic that Goa encourages alligators and crocodiles but sees tigers as dangerous and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant can’t do a thing about it if Goans want a tiger sanctuary but no mining in their small green state which is increasingly becoming a concrete jungle here, there and everywhere and quite possibly setting the stage for more flooding in the years to come.

CRZ ZONE MESS
AND a few stray thoughts on an organization like the Goa Foundation filing public interest litigation on Coastal Regulation Zone issues which do not take into consideration the damage caused to small people who buy plots of land for their future quality of life. For example, the Goa Foundation filed a petition objecting to the purchase of a large plot of land by a builder in Old Goa. The issue is it not even encroaching on river or sea or disturbing the birds of Carambolim Lake.
Apparently, we understand that there are two categories of forest land. There are government forests on which no construction may come up. Then there are private forests where after securing permission construction may be carried out.
We hear of a large plot of land sold by a local Bhandari family to a builder 29 years ago. The builder divided the large property into plots and sold them without any legal permission. A number of Goans bought small plots of 300 to 500 sq mts. Some constructed buildings on their plots. Till the Goa Foundation intervened and claimed that the entire sale and construction of the buildings is illegal as the land qualifies as government forest and not private forest.
If the Goa Foundation wins its case all the plots and buildings will become illegal and will have to be demolished. The question is who will compensate the small Goan parties who invested in plots and built their homes on them? I personally feel that the Goa Foundation has been abusing the CRZ law at the cost of niz Goenkars.

MONSOON GOA ASSEMBLY
AND a few stray thoughts on when the monsoon session of the Goa assembly started. The Goa assembly session started on Tuesday, July 18. 2023. The composition of the Goa Assembly gives the BJP is huge majority. Two-thirds of the members of the assembly support the BJP. Of the 2/3rds eight of the legislators are defectors from the Congress led by Babush Monserrate.
The only Opposition members are the Goa Forward with Vijai Sardessai as a leader. Unfortunately for him Rohan Khaunte, who was one of the founders of Goa Forward, joined the BJP. The Congress which had won the largest number of seat in the last assembly elections has only four MLAs in the present assembly. The leader of the Congress legislation party is Yuri Alemao. Incidentally, Advocate Carlos Alvaris has won the award for being the best MLA in the country.
With an overwhelming majority the BJP can pass any legislation it wants to. The speaker belongs to the BJP and can refuse to entertain bills moved by the Opposition. The only opportunity that Opposition MLAs who are about half-a- dozen have is Zero Hour when they can ask any questions they want. The ongoing budget session of the assembly is the joke as the Opposition does not seem to have any voice left.

BALRATH BUSES
AND a few stray thoughts on when the Balrath buses went on strike. The government of Goa introduced the Balrath bus service for students from primary to secondary. The bus service was free and managed by the schools. This saved students a lot of money on transportation by autos and omnis, particularly at the primary level. The salaries of the drivers are paid by the government. The maintenance has to be carried out by the schools. The Balrath drivers are now protesting for an increase in salaries. The new scheme also fixes a driver’s monthly remuneration at Rs12,000 and that of the attendants/cleaners at Rs6,000. It also provides for a 5% increase in remuneration every year. The association of Balrath drivers and attendants, United Balrath Employees Union, which has threatened to strike from Monday, July 24, 2023 however, has been demanding Rs20,000 and Rs14,000 respectively and pay for all 12 months, besides other service conditions like job security.
Under the new revised scheme school managements are eligible for a recurring annual grant of Rs4.17 lakh to be released once a year in July on submitting previous year accounts. This grant includes up to Rs50,000 or the actual cost of a vehicle’s repairs, maintenance and insurance, besides fuel costs up to a maximum limit of 300 litres per month.

HOLLYWOOD ON STRIKE!
AND a last stray thought on the entire Hollywood film industry coming to a halt as actors, scriptwriters, photographers and other workers went on strike. More than two months after Hollywood screenwriters went on strike, thousands of film and television actors joined them on Thursday (early on Friday in India), following the breakdown of negotiations — over fairer pay and better working conditions — between their union and motion picture studios. Bringing the production of most movies and TV shows to a grinding halt, the action marks the first time since 1960 that Hollywood’s writers and actors have gone on strike.
Notably, moments after the strike was called by the Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union representing 160,000 actors, movie stars, including Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy, who were attending the premier of their upcoming movie “Oppenheimer,” in London, left the event.
The issues that led actors and writers to go on strike are broadly the same. Both the Writers Guild of America, which represents screenwriters, and SAG-AFTRA seek a fairer split of profits and better working conditions. They have complained that especially since the advent of the streaming era, the income of actors and writers has plummeted due to sever

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