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The ‘Dabolim Airport’ Land Acquisition Scam

As early as 2007, Goa government agrees to acquire land, notifies land for acquisition to be given to Airports Authority of India for Airport parking facility. But in 2011 the Government of Goa denotifies the land on objection from claimed owners of the land, it then identifies another 70,000 sqmts land for parking which turns out to be belonging to the Ministry of Defence. GoaChronicle.com investigates the conundrum surrounding the Dabolim Airport Land…

In March 2011 land admeasuring 36,800 sqmts in Mormugao, Dabolim – Survey No 8/1 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.

From the start
In a Notification dated July 23, 2007 signed by the Under Secretary for the Governor of Goa it clearly statesThe 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.’

Airport Authorities Report
In a report titled ‘Land Acquisition for Expansion of Dabolim Airport’ dated May 13, 2010 and signed by MK Vasta, SLAO Mopa Airport Cell; here are some interesting points that throw up a lot of questions;
On October 20, 2009 the Attorneys representing on behalf of the co-owners of Survey No 8/1 and 9/1 have filed their objections.
In respect to Survey No 8/1 and 9/1 of, which land is going to be acquired the Attorney who was present on behalf of the co-owners stated that his client had purchased the said land from the Communidade of Sancoale and after decades of litigation and necessary proceedings they have got the order to delete the name of the Communidade of Sancoale and include the name of actual and real owners. Now they are developing their land residential and commercial purpose as well as vehicle parking. By issuing the said Notification the Government has hindered and deprived the owners of title.’

In a site inspection report dated January 15, 2010, MK Vasta states:
In Survey No 8/1 it is noticed that there exists 20 structures and their status whether legal or illegal is not known. The said structures are not figuring in other right column of Form 1 & XIV. The area is classified as class (b) uncultivable land. The total area to be acquired for the proposed project is 36,800 sqmts.
In Survey No 9/1 it is noticed that there exists three structures and their status whether legal or illegal is not known. The said structures are not figuring in guide column of Form 1 & XIV and the area is shown as Garden

The D’Costa Angle
Mormugao Planning and Development Authority issued a letter to Bernard D’Costa titled ‘Your application under inward No 1542 dated 7/2/2011. It states that parking area of 76,500 sqmts has been proposed in ODP-2011 for Vasco da Gama. This is issued based on the Notification in the Official Gazette vide Series III No 45 dated 5/2/09 as finally approved ODP-2011 and it was signed by RK Pandita, member secretary.
In a meeting dated February 14, 2011 on the Land Acquisition for the expansion of Dabolim Airport held at 11 am under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister of Goa, Digambar Kamat other dignitaries Jose Philip DeSouza, Revenue Minister, Mauvin Godinho, Deputy Speaker of Goa Legislative Assembly and Sanjay Srivastava, Chief Secretary, D Paul Manickam, Airport Director – Goa, AAI and other government officials  and AAI officials including Bernard D’Costa co-owner and Power of Attorney holders of other co-owners ; here are the important point to be noticed

  1. Bernard D’Costa made a presentation on why the government needed to de-notify the land bearing Survey No 8/1 and admeasuring 36,800 sqmts and also expressed his willingness to give the Government of Goa an NOC for Survey No 9/1 admeasuring 20,050 sqmts for its utilization for development of Airport parking. Bernard also pleaded that the said land is under Settlement Zone.
  2. Revenue Minister and Deputy Speaker pointed out that there is vacant space of 70,000 sqmts available opposite the airport.
  3. Based on Bernard D’Costa plea and not taking into considerations the points raised by the Airport Director, AAI even the fact that AAI had already deposited Rs 4.25 crores based on the commitment given by the Government of Goa to the Civil Aviation Ministry ‘it was agreed upon that the request to not acquire the land under Survey No 8/1 could be considered and subsequently, PWD should initiate action to acquire vacant land which is available under emergency clause of Land Acquisition Act. The Revenue Department may take up action to drop land acquisition proceedings under Survey No 8/1.’
  4. More importantly what is Mauvin Godinho, Deputy Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly doing in this meeting.

The AAI Pleas
In a letter addressed to the Government of Goa on 15/3/2011 Airport Director, Goa, AAI pleas that the Government of Goa may kindly consider proceeding with the land acquisition in respect to Survey No 8/1 in view of the inescapable and imperative requirement of the area for airport development. The process of airport development will be irreversibly stunted and this will manifest in inadequate facilities for parking, alternate acquisition of remote/non-remote contiguous land areas, as a substitute for Survey No 8/1 will not, repeat, and not be useful for airport development as parking is to be provided in the near proximity of the airport.

CM Nod on De-Notification
In document No 17/49/2007 – GAD – II (XXXXIX) dated 11/03/2011 and titled ‘Confidential Most Immediate Cabinet Matter’, it 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.
Taking view of the Advocate General of Goa opinion on the matter wherein he had opined that under Section 48 of Land Acquisition Act the government has the powers to withdraw from land acquisition of any land before possession is taken.
Going one step further in de-notifying the land the Government of Goa took a Cabinet Approval, because as per a circular issued dated 07/04/2003 thereby indicating the instruction regarding the Procedure for Acquisition of Land it is mentioned that dropping of proposal should be rarest of rare cases with full justification. Any lapse in this regard will invite disciplinary action and recovering money from the erring officer. Any Government decision on the matter will require Cabinet approval.

Builder Connection
Sources in the builder fraternity have indicated that the now de-notified land which was co-owned by Bernard D’Costa who was also the Power of Attorney for the other co-owners on Survey No 8/1 is in an Agreement for Sale with a prominent local builder who has over 3,00,000 sqmts of land in and around the airport area already. While the Agreement of Sale of this currently estimated worth over Rs 100 crore property (since real estate developers are pegging this prime land to be valued at between 30,000 – 40,000 per sqmts) is not in GoaChronicle.com possession, we are working to procure the same and expose this final piece of the conundrum. Also in the AAI report mentioned above it is stated that co-owners of the land are keen to develop it for residential and commercial purpose.

GoaChronicle.com Questions
While it appears that the government has used the law and Cabinet approval to go back on its commitment given to the Ministry of Civil Aviation to acquire land for the AAI Airport parking facility, there are still a few questions which leave gaping holes into the action of the Government of Goa; the only logic used by the government seems to be that the land is a settlement land belonging to the owners. However, that is the one claim which Directorate of Settlement and Land records show is questionable since it is a Class B land.

  1. Why did the Government of Goa commit to Civil Aviation Ministry on acquiring this said land in the Notification in 2007 and later on in February 2011 decide to initiate the process of de-notifying the land acquired which was already in stage seven of the land acquisition process?
  2. AAI has not sent a note the Government of Goa to withdraw its request for the land acquisition; what then is the need for the Government of Goa to de-notify the land acquired?
  3. Why is the Government of Goa as specified in the Confidential Most Immediate Cabinet Matter terming the land in Survey No 8/1 as settlement zone, when Form 1 & XIV show that it is Class (B) uncultivable land. It is also important to note that Survey No 9/1 land admeasuring 20,050 sqmts shows in the Directorate of Settlement and Land records as Goa for which Bernad D’Costa has given an NOC is classified as Garden?
  4. How does the Survey No 8/1 admeasuring 36,800 sqmts in all Government of Goa, AAI and Co-owners correspondence however on the Survey Report of the Directorate of Settlement and Land Records show the land parcel size as 53,157 sqmts
  5. The alternate land suggested by the Government of Goa belongs to the Ministry of Defence, under what pretext has the government suggested this land. Does it plan to acquire it from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and has the MoD given its approval for the same?  

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