Panaji, May 15: Though the state government has not actually said so, it seems to have developed cold feet about going ahead with the proposed international airport at Mopa. It has decided to upgrade the existing airport at Dabolim instead and work here will start next week.
Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel has asked the Airport Authority of India and other concerned agencies to start work. Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred de Souza, who had a meeting with Patel in Delhi, says that as soon as the navy hands over the nine acres of land, the expansion of the airport will begin.
He quoted an AAI report which said that in 1995-96, 8,824 aircraft landed at Dabolim, of which 7422 were domestic flights. The projection for 2013-14 was 4,308 international flights and 17,980 domestic flights, he said. “The upgradation plans will help extend the infrastructure for adding 10 wide-bodied aircraft,” de Souza told DNA. The AAI will also build a new terminal on the northern side and will have four aero bridges. De Souza said that contrary to reports, the navy has not asked for any reciprocal land in exchange for the nine acres it is giving for the expansion in Dabolim.
The second nail in Mopa’s coffin came last week when the government failed to approve the award for the first notification for the acquisition of 54 lakh square metres of land for the Mopa project. Earlier two other processes for the acquisition of 18 lakh square metres (additional land for the project) and 14 lakh square metres (for approach roads) also had lapsed as no notification was issued by the government as required under the Land Acquisition Act.
Congress MLA representing Pernem, Jitendra Deshprabhu, who has been backing the Mopa project and had even organised a rasta and rail roko agitation last month in support of it, refuses to concede that his government has distanced itself from a project which had become a political hot potato after South Goa MP Churchill Alemao had rallied the south against Mopa. He told DNA, “In half an hour the land acquisition process can be revived. Too much should not be read into the lapsing.”
But the Dabolim Airport Action Committee knows that it has won with the imminent expansion of the existing airport and is now going for the kill.
Committee spokesman Radharao Gracias told DNA, “I welcome the expansion. We demand that the Goa government immediately take a cabinet decision to drop Mopa once and for all.”
Goa's Dabolim Airport Gears up for a Facelift
Times News Network
Panaji: To increase the flow of air traffic to Goa, the state’s sole airport at Dabolim near Vasco da Gama in South Goa is to get a facelift. The central government had promised Goa a sum of Rs 500 crore to be invested in Dabolim on an additional 18 acres of land.
Of this, nine acres have been acquired from the Indian Navy on condition that the same amount of land shall be provided elsewhere to the Navy. The remaining nine acres will be acquired by the state government.
The state plans to use this additional land to enhance parking bays from the present 4-5 aircraft to a capacity of at least 10 planes — four A-320s and six ATR turboprops. Other plans include constructing parallel taxiways, development of passenger terminals, cargo terminals and expanding carrying capacity of the airport to avoid traffic congestion.
In addition, the Navy, which controls the airport has proposed free movement of civilian aircraft between 6pm and 6am; when the ‘airspace’ will not be used by the Navy and thereby will smoothen the flow of airplanes plying to the state.
Expansion will “reduce air traffic congestion,” the state’s tourism minister Wilfred de Souza said. “Last year saw 690 charters come to Goa, this year the number has already crossed 720,” he said.
The expansion of the airport was hotly debated as there is a proposal to develop a new international airport at Mopa in north Goa. However, no final decision has been taken on that issue as yet and development of the Dabolim airport has become a necessity.
Read more on Mopa, from Daijiworld archives: