Proposed museum at Aguada jail will not benefit tourism –

Another of Nilesh Cabral’s money scheming projects. It will only benefit is pocket and is not a viable tourism option.

While the prison no longer houses inmates since May 30, 2015 as prisoners were shifted to the new jail at Colvale, GTDC brought in some fresh thinking. It decided to convert the Portuguese-era Aguada jail into a museum on lines of British-built Dhagshai Jail in Himachal and Cellular Jail in Andaman. The tourism department now plans a historical and heritage centre in a Rs 25.8 crore project. While the plan takes shape, The Goan gets to the bottom of the issue and speaks to Gerard da Cunha, an illustrious architect of Goa on this decision and how it will benefit tourism in the state. “It will be a much better idea to treat Central Jail Aguada as an adaptive reuse project than to convert it into a museum”, says Gerard da Cunha. da Cunha is an illustrious architect of Goa, who also restored Reis Magos Fort. Adaptive reuse means using an old site for a purpose different from what it was built for. Although, GTDC does intend to convert Aguada jail into a museum, there is overwhelming evidence in Goa and elsewhere that state-owned museums aren t run well; besides, only few tourists visit them and overall they don t make much commercial or even cultural sense. So how should Central Aguada Jail be adapted and re-used in modern day? da Cunha replied, “A lot of activities can happen there. Like, theatre or a traditional bazaar to sell artifacts. There should be a calendar of events like we have for Kala Academy. But, of course, it can t be like Kala Academy”. da Cunha continued, “In other countries, such projects are undertaken to ensure that the history is relevant to the current generations and remains so for future generations and also the project becomes commercially viable”. This can hardly be said for any historic site restored in India. Take the case of Reis Magos Fort. It was restored beautifully and aesthetically by da Cunha himself but today it is being rented out by government to people for hosting marriage ceremonies. It does make money for the state government but hosting marriage ceremonies doesn t bring alive the fort s glorious history to people. Like Reis Magos Fort, Central Jail Aguada also has a glorious past. The Portuguese built Fort Aguada in 1612 to keep a watch on potential attacks by the enemy and also to provide a base to their ships. During Portuguese rule, they used the lower part of Fort Aguada as their base camp. But, after Goa was liberated in 1961, the lower part of Fort Aguada was used as the Central Jail. And, it continued being so until last year when all the inmates were moved to Colvale jail. When Central Jail is restored, tourists and locals visiting it should be able to experience the past. A museum perhaps is not the right answer for that. –


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