The State government has not yet given its nod to the Indian Navy to take over the two islands off Mormugao coast, according to a reply given by the Defence Minister A K Antony to Goa’s Rajya Sabha member Shantaram Naik.
The Indian Navy has sought to take over the Pequeno Island admeasuring 2,78,525 square metres that belongs to the Government of Goa and the privately owned Grande Island having an area of 5,28,575 square metres.
The reasons cited for the take over is security concerns given the fact that these islands are less than four kilometers from the landing funnel of the Dabolim airport and also due to the aircraft operations from the Naval air station at Dabolim.
However, the Indian Navy’s proposal sparked off a strong protest in Goa with the Navy being accused of seeking to grab Goa’s land.
Shantaram Naik himself had accused the Navy of seeking to hog land and called for its opposition. Deputy Speaker Mauvin Godinho while also opposing the Navy’s plans had suggested that Naval personnel be posted for surveillance instead of taking over the land.
In the most stringent attack on the Navy, former minister Matanhy Saldanha accused it of seeking to acquire more and more land in Goa to pander to its officers desire to come to Goa for a holiday posting.
He also pointed out that the Armed forces are only taking land and not giving anything back to Goa and pointed out that though the Armed Forces were given huge tracts of land at Bambolim in lieu of the land in its possession at Panjim Altinho and near the market, the Armed Forces have not yet returned the area in Panjim to the Panjim Municipal authorities.
Besides, Matanhy had also pointed out that the Indian Navy was not willing to spare a few square metres of its land adjacent to the four-lane highway from Vasco to Verna as a result of which, in that segment the dividers had to be made very narrow.