In the past few days there have been more and more news reports, articles. etc. being written on the MOPA airport. I have been closely following the progress and also participated in debates concerning the new proposed Greenfield airport. The most recent ones that caught my eye are the ones that appeared on a local newspaper dated 28th February by Anil Counto in the Opinion section stating various ungrounded reasons as to why we need this airport and a news-report where Manohar Parrikar has stated that MOPA will become a reality that also appeared in Herald on 1st March.
I am really surprised at how opinions are being passed and decisions being made by businessmen and politicians. Firstly the Chief Minister needs to realize that the people of Goa have elected him as their representative and has been given a mandate to fulfill. I don’t really see that happening, time and again we have seen decisions being imposed that are opposed by the common people. Parrikar needs to clearly show the sustainability of two airports and also the kind of revenue it will generate. There should be correct facts and figures that should justify what he means by cargo operations and how the existing airport is not feasible. I have been long enough in the aviation field to know that a good cargo facility requirement for a state like ours does not need to be more than 5000 to 10000 sq.mts. I believe that the Dabolim airport can be used for this as the new terminal can solely be utilized for passenger aircraft and the existing terminal can be converted into a cargo one and at the same time the area in front of it can be used for aircraft parking. It should be realized that having factories in close proximity of the airport is not a requirement at all; it is just an eye-wash. We all know that there is as need for good highways and logistics of transportation that includes cold storage trailers like every other country has. Cargo can be brought from anywhere to the Dabolim airport for air transport if these facilities are put into place. I would also like to point out that by being close to the existing airport, the Mormugao port if upgraded and privatised will serve as a good feeder to the airlines for transhipments. Studies done on the feasibility should be made public rather than it being held by only a handful of people in the Government.
As for Anil Counto’s article that speaks of how MOPA is the only way forward, I would like to ask him about the kind of knowledge he has with regards to aviation and the likes. Without proper experience and qualification in the aviation sector how does it give him the right to talk about an issue that will affect everyone in Goa? A source has informed me that Anil Counto owns land around MOPA; does that have anything to do with his sudden interest in wanting it? Maybe the Government, past and present, is also supporting him in all his businesses for him to speak volumes of the kind of vision our existing CM has for the betterment of the State.
I have recently visited MOPA and the land around it and was surprised to see that the Government and a few well to do individuals are ready to destroy the land. MOPA is a village that clearly shows and demarcates the good and bad being done to it. One part of it is barren land and the other is full of plantations of vegetables and fruits with buzzing villagers that are working hard to earn their living. Do these people who are rooting for the new airport realize that farming being completely affected is the harsh reality that we will have to face? The pollution it will cause due to fuel emissions will leave the village as a no-good area for farming. Can we not look around at other airports in India or outside India and see that? The take-offs and landings cause great harm to the environment. Anil Counto speaks of the major industries and occupations that Goa will have in the next 50 years. Do we need these industries polluting our State? There is also the horrifying Managlore crash incident wherein the DGCA had warned that table top airports should not be considered in the future. Do they know and have they actually thought about the consequences? It is indeed very amusing how he has mentioned that Goans are averse to change, of course we are. Why would we not be if it is harming our beautiful home? This is not a judgement call to see, will it work or won’t it, it is something that will change everything for Goa. Agreed that Goa does get most of its revenue from tourism but I believe that the Dabolim airport is capable enough of handling the influx of tourists.
By buying land in and around MOPA these businessmen believe it is their right to have this airport so that they can get maximum revenue out of their plans. Well, I too am a businessman who is very much in the aviation industry and I should actually be more than welcoming of the new airport as I can think of more than one way that it would bring me revenue however I believe that Goa belongs to everyone and any new project should be looked at with a clear conscience. It should be considered as something affecting the people of Goa and not our bank balance. What Goa actually needs are various public facilities like proper roads, flyovers, transport system, cleanliness etc. All this can be done with 1/4th of the money that the Government has proposed will be utilized for the new airport. How can only certain individuals benefit from the tax payers money? Most of the Goan people are suffering due to the lack of proper infrastructure in the State. Appeals of the common people are not being heard although one can see the things that Goa actually needs. We need to stand up and make ourselves heard; the Government needs to tell us the real reason for wanting the MOPA airport.
My ideal Goa will be one that wholly caters to its people by upgrading existing infrastructures, helping youth to stay in the State by increasing the number of professional colleges and amount of jobs. It will be the State that it always was – green, clean, beautiful and not a concrete jungle that people are trying to make out of it.