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MOPA : Boon or Bane ?

Mopa, the high budgeted airport in the making on Goa’s soil has attracted considerable amount of good and bad publicity. Even though it has been making all kinds of noise, the issue has been of a minute importance to most of the locals. So far only those who supposed to have direct loss or benefit in it has shown intensive engagement. So what’s in it for each one of you locals?

When such projects are under progression, government expects some sort of public feedback but in this case the government only had two sides to weigh upon. One that will benefit from it and the one that won’t. There’s been a lack of liberal perspective on the matter and the Central government has autonomously given a nod while the state government initiating the further advancements. The current provision states that there cannot be two airports within a 150 kms radius and since the
government hasn’t made changes into the set of rules, it somewhat indicates Dabolim airport to be closed down once Mopa becomes fully functional. A large portion of people from South Goa, mostly tourism dependent have shown an extreme disapproval over that. They’re of the opinion that the Dabolim airport in south itself be renovated if required and which is capable enough to satisfy the future needs. In contrast to that, what ICAO report (a paragraph from the report) suggested is, “There is no question that a new airport will eventually be required at Mopa, when the enhanced capacity of Dabolim will not cope with the demand. The challenge is to determine when this capacity will be reached, assuming no additional land will be made available to AAI (Airports Authority of India) and therefore, when the new airport should be commissioned, with what airport characteristics and with what capacity.”

There have been equally significant voices in favour of the projects who have agreed on a condition that locals from Mopa be given job opportunities and a deserving compensation. In argument to it, some have expressed disagreement in regards to the affected locals are mostly farming dependent and aren’t well educated and if they wouldn’t fulfill the basic criteria for the job requirements, how the government would employ them?

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Some of the NGOs actively following the issue have raised concerns of how the project will have adverse effects on Flora and Fauna. They have also accused the government of not considering the farmer’s land in the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA Report) and the report being fully biased and misleading.

Whatever the outcome it sure has driven the land prices up. Once the construction of the new airport is completed it is expected to increase the economic viability of the land around it. According to the local sources, land in the close proximity of the proposed airport has been bought by many people for this sole reason.

However the Government is hopeful that the public-private-partnership (PPP) modeled new Greenfield airport is a future necessity and will play a larger role in building Goa’s economy at many levels, the current development of highways too will contribute to flowing of tourists to all the corners. Also the local authorities have assured of all kinds of protection to the environment on the lines of development.

As the project is already shown green signal by the central and state government, there’s no more scope for debate when it comes to the building of the mega project. Hopefully, the project will be an integration of local, future and environmental needs to the state.

By Ramrai Naik

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