Photo Credits: Kathy Fernandes
The proposed Ravindra Bhavan opposite the Chaudi Church was meant to be a cultural centre for the people of Canacona taluka but 10 years on, the project has missed different deadlines and is yet to be completed.
According to the design, the Canacona Ravindra Bhavan, to be built in an area admeasuring 8,306 sq mtrs., has been designed to accommodate a sitting capacity of 800, a rehearsal hall, an art gallery, classrooms for music, drama, dance, a dormitory for visiting artists, a cafeteria and an administrative block, besides parking facilities for 51 four-wheelers and 131 two-wheelers at the complex.
Then chief minister late Manohar Parrikar had laid the foundation stone for the Canacona Ravindra Bhavan on July 27, 2013, in the presence of then Sports Minister and Canacona Ramesh Tawadkar, who celebrated his birthday on that day.
Parrikar had stated that construction work would commence by September 2013 and would be completed within 18 months (February 2015).
By March 2015, there was no sign of any work at the site of the proposed Ravindra Bhavan. On July 2016, the AAP in a symbolic gesture celebrated the fourth year of the foundation stone laid for Ravindra Bhavan.
Tawadkar’s colleague turned rival, ex-Canacona MLA Vijay Poi Khot had criticised the State government, and Tawadkar in particular, for failing to keep up the promise of constructing the Ravindra Bhavan within two years of laying foundation stone.
But just before the elections in 2017, the unexpected happened when construction work began on the Ravindra Bhavan just a day before the Election Code of Conduct to come into effect on January 2, 2017.
A Delhi-based contractor engaged machinery to excavate a trench at the site, to mark the construction of the Ravindra Bhavan and the revised date for completion of the project was January 1, 2019.
However, political equations changed as Ramesh Tawadkar contested against the BJP nominee Vijay Poi Khot and both lost to the then Congress candidate Isidore Fernandes in Canacona.
Fernandes began to vigorously pursue the construction work which was going on at slow pace, to meet the new deadline.
By March 2017, Fernandes was unhappy with the pace of ongoing work and had invited then Arts and Culture Minister Govind Gaude to inspect the construction works.
Gaude had assured Canconcars to provide a model state-of-the-art Ravindra Bhavan at Canacona in 2019.
When yet another deadline got missed, a visibly upset Fernandes inspected the site in March 2019 and said the contractor could complete only 30% of the work. He proposed to impose a fine on the contractor for having missed the deadline and also criticised the GSIDC, under whom the Ravindra Bhavan is being constructed, for giving yet another extension of 12 months to complete the project by January 1, 2020.
However by April 2021, more than half of the work remained incomplete and the Ravindra Bhavan missed yet another deadline of December 19, 2022.
In the meanwhile, Ramesh Tawadkar, who returned as Canacona MLA, inspected the ongoing work and even issued directions for early completion.
In his recent budget speech, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said 66% of work on the Ravindra Bhavan was completed and said the Rs 59.28 crore project will be completed by December 19.
Unhappy with the slow pace of work, Director of Art and Culture Sagun Velip recently inspected the ongoing construction work at the Ravinda Bhavan in Chaudi alongwith a few other officers in the department.
Stating his visit is purely to observe the pace of works, Velip said: “Even though six years have passed since the work finally began in 2017, the department has received many complaints that the project is still not completed. Hence this visit.”
Velip is learnt to have warned the contractor to expedite the work on the Ravindra Bhavan.