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Dabolim Airport Land Acquisition Scam: CMs Questionable Role

In the first part of our expose titled ‘Dabolim Airport Land Acquisition Scam’ through our investigations we revealed the dubious circumstances around which land in the final stages of acquisition for the AAI Airport parking facility was de-notified; in this part GoaChronicle.com throws light on the role of the Chief Minister of Goa in this scam.

In order to throw light on the entire scam, we would like to take you throw the pertinent documents and actions of the Government of Goa and the Chief Minister in first accepting to assist Airport Authority of India and subsequently de-notifying the acquisition of the land which was owned by private parties.
In March 2011 land admeasuring 36,800 sqmts in Mormugao, Dabolim – Survey No 8/1 and another which was to be acquired by the Government of Goa to be given to the Airports Authority of India was de-notified through a Cabinet decision and subsequently another 70,000 sqmts of land as per Outline Development Plan (ODP-2011) for Vasco da Gama by the Mormugao Planning and Development Authority which was set aside for parking was proposed by the Government as suitable replacement option. However, the alternate land suggested by the Government of Goa belongs to the Ministry of Defence, as per records on Form I and IV of the Goa Daman and Diu Land Revenue Code 1968.

Moving Ahead on Acquisition in 2009
In a Notification dated July 23, 2007 signed by the Under Secretary for the Governor of Goa it clearly states ‘The land mentioned in Schedule hereto (referring to Survey No 8/1 and Survey No 9/1 is likely to be needed for public purpose, viz. Land Acquisition for expansion of the Dabolim Airport (for parking)’.  It further states that ‘All person interested in the said land are hereby warned not to obstruct or interfere with any surveyor or persons employed upon the said land for the purpose of the said acquisition. Any contract for the disposal of the said land by sale, lease, mortgage, assignment, exchange or otherwise or any outlay commenced on improvements without the sanction of the Collector appointed will be disregarded.’

Still Moving Ahead on Acquisition in 2010
Subsequently an order signed by Under Secretary Pandharinath N Naik (By Order and in the name of the Governor of Goa) dated 07/07/2010 reads as follows:

‘Whereas, the Government of Goa, vide Notification No 23/15/2009-RD dated 23/07/2009, issued under sub-section (1) of Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and published in the Official Gazette, Series II, No 19, dated 06/08/2009, notified that the land specified in the Schedule thereof (referring to Survey No 8/1 and Survey No 9/1) is likely to be needed for public purpose viz. Land Acquisition for Expansion of Dabolim Airport (for parking).

And whereas, the Government of Goa considered the report made by the Collector under sub-section (2) of Section 5 A of the Land Acquisition Act and on being satisfied that the said land is needed for the said Public purpose, which Notification No: 23/15/2009 – RD dated 02/06/2010 issued under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, and published in the Official Gazette, Series II, No.11 dated 10/06/2010 declared that the said land is required for the said Public purpose.

Now therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 7 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894, the Government of Goa hereby directs the Collector, South Goa District, Margao-Goa to take the order for acquisition of the said land.

Meeting with CM on 14/02/2011
In the minutes of the meeting regarding Land Acquisition for expansion of Dabolim Airport (for parking) at 11.00 am under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister in the chambers of the Chief Minister; it is important to note the stance taken on part of the Government of Goa in particular the Revenue Minister Jose Philip DeSouza and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Mauvin Godinho, and in concurrence the Chief Minister Digambar Kamat.

1. Bernard D’Costa mentions that though both his properties are designated as SETTLEMENT ZONE and that in spite of availability of sufficient space for parking as per OUTLINE DEVELOPMENT PLAN of Vasco, his properties are proposed for acquisition and notification under Section 4 and Section 6 along with order under Section 7 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894. Aggrieved by the above he pleaded de-notification under Section 48 of the Land Acquisition Act on the ground that he is going lose his property.

(Both Bernard D’Costa properties are under SETTLEMENT ZONE as claimed in his plea. It is surprising to note that in the Public Works Department (File Note) dated 06/11/2009 signed by the Assistant Engineer of PWD and Assistant Surveyor of Works which was prepared by Siddesh B Naik, field surveyor, Directorate of Settlement & Land Records, Panaji shows that the Survey No 8/1 is classified as Rocky Land and Survey No 9/1 is classified as Garden. As on today the status on Survey No 8/1 and Survey No 9/1 still show as Class B and Garden).

If throughout the entire process of acquisition conducted by the Government of Goa through PWD and Revenue Department with the sanction of the Chief Minister the land is not identified as SETTLEMENT ZONE; what changed at the 14/02/2011 meeting; because the land still does not show as SETTLEMENT ZONE in the Survey Report and neither has the New Regional Plan 2021 being notified for this region.

2. D Paul Manickam, AAI Director, Goa briefed the Chief Minister and stressed on the following point;

a. The land area is Survey No 8/1 and 9/1 are in public interest and are the only contiguously available areas for expansion of airport facilities and exercise was jointly carried out by AAI, PWD – Goa, Survey Department in and around airport and it was ascertained that only other vacant areas if either affected by right of way of National Highways/Railways or is the property of Ministry of Defence
b. The present land acquisition has already reached Section 7 stage and any deviation/deletion will entail a further long delay. In any case except Survey No 8/1 and 9/1 no other suitable land is available in the vicinity.
c. The present land acquisition is being acquired specifically as per the commitment given by the Government of Goa to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry in May 2006 for which AAI has already deposited Rs 4.25 crore.

The process of acquisition has reached Section 7 stage of the Land Acquisition Act; AAI has already deposited Rs 4.25 crores towards the land acquisition and the land under acquisition did not belong to the Ministry of Defence of affected by right of way of National Highway/Railways.  It is highly questionable at this juncture as why the Chief Minister of Goa was still entertaining the pleas of Bernard D’Costa and dismissing the moot points of AAI Director, Goa. When AAI clearly had not initiated any letter or note stating that it would not like to acquire the said land.

3. Revenue Minister Jose Philip DeSouza and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Mauvin Godinho pointed out just as Bernard D’Costa did that there is a vacant space of land around 70,000 sqmts available opposite the airport, meant for parking and they advised to acquire the same. Subsequently four days after the 14/02/2011 meeting details were provided by the above ministers and Bernard D’Costa through a letter issued by PK Pandita, Member Secretary of the Mormugao Planning & Development Authority (MPDA) dated on 08/02/2011 indicating the availability on land. However the letter itself show gross anomalies or inconsistency on behalf of MPDA and questions the very actions of the Jose Philip DeSouza, Mauvin Godinho and Digambar Kamat in this entire scam.

The land provided as alternate to Survey No 8/1 is in Chicalim bearing the Survey No 20 and Survey No 83 belong to the Ministry of Defence and Survey No 21 and Survey No 82 belonging to the Chicalim Communidade.

In the letter it states Survey No 20 & 21 (13500 approximately is set aside for parking) and Survey No 82 & 83 (35000 sqmts approximately has been set aside for parking).

The important question that arises in this entire exercise of showing availability of land as an alternate to the de-notified land is that the land does not belong to the Government of Goa but to the Ministry of Defence in the first case and secondly Communidade of Chicalim.  Did Chief Minister and Revenue Minister overlook this important fact in the cover-up of the de-notification and providing AAI with an alternative; it also brings into question the role of the MPDA and its OPD-2011 Vasco, in which it clearly shows that land belonging to Ministry of Defence is showing as parking area and this action has been Notified in the Official Gazette vide Series III No 45 dated 05/02/2009 as finally approved ODP-2011.

Cabinet Meeting Approval
Document No 17/49/2007 – GAD – II (XXXXIX) dated 11/03/2011 and titled ‘Confidential Most Immediate Cabinet Matter’, reads ‘An extract of the decision taken on the Item/s in the XXXXIXth Cabinet Meeting of the Council of Ministers held on 09/03/2011 at 3.00 pm under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister in the Cabinet Room.

Under Agenda Item No. 12 (Revenue Department) it states: ‘proposal to de-notify an area of 36,800 sqmts under SETTLEMENT ZONE, from Survey No 8/1 part of Village of Dabolim of Mormugao Taluka under Section 48 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. DECISION APPROVED.

Here again in the Cabinet decision it clearly states the 36,800 sqmts land is SETTLEMENT ZONE and to go ahead with the de-notification.

Goa government’s role in the Dabolim Airport Land Acquisition for Expansion (Airport parking) is dubious to say the least; what is even more surprising is that the Chief Minister sat in concurrence to the entire acquisition and the subsequent de-notification.

1. Does a land under acquisition being in SETTLEMENT ZONE as per the reason given in the Cabinet decision becomes a rarest or rare cases which invokes a Cabinet decision to be de-notified after years of the Government of Goa and AAI working towards this acquisition. Will this yard stick also be applied to other Goa government land acquisition in projects such as Mopa or National Highway
2. Why was the alternate land not belonging to the Government of Goa but to Ministry of Defence and Communidade of Chicalim even considered

The question know however is will the Congress government at the Centre take a corrective measure to the deliberate scam perpetrated by the Congress-led ministers in the State of Goa and will the axe fall on Revenue Minister Jose Philip DeSouza, Deputy Speaker Mauvin Godinho and Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, since the Congress government has set a precedence in the Adarsh Scam in Mumbai.

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