While state government has fast tracked the process on materialising Mopa airport on priority, the much needed grade separator work, that has been planned to facilitate smooth flow of traffic to and from Dabolim Airport and was supposed to be completed in 12 months’ time, is dragging its feet.
On February 2014, the then Chief Minister and present Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had laid the foundation stone for the project estimated to cost Rs 41.80 crore. At the foundation stone laying ceremony, Parrikar assured that by December 2014 the project would be completed and inaugurated. However, it is now over two years and still it would take another one year for the project to see the light of the day.
As per sources in the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC), the project ran into a hurdle after the approach road to the bridge was found to be constructed over the naphtha gas pipeline. Similarly another issue that came in the way of the bridge was its close proximity with the railway tracks to the piers and the approach roads. The issue was later resolved by making changes in the project drawings but on the ground the work still has been going on at snail pace. Apparently GSIDC has set the deadline of March 2017 for the completion of the project. However, the way work has been going on at the site, there are high possibilities that the contractor would even miss the new deadline.
The contractor-appointed GSIDC has so far completed the piers work along the eastern as well as western side of the airport. On the eastern side of the airport, deck slab over the piers have also begun, but till date only four piers out of total 36 piers have been connected with deck slab and if the project work goes on at current speed then it would take not less than a year to complete the project. “It takes about 20 days to connect two piers having 30 metres distance with deck slab. By June 2017 we would complete the work on eastern side of the flyover over and by June 2018 we would probably complete the western side of flyover,” an official looking after grade separator project work told Herald.
Locals from Dabolim, besides political leaders and even the Chicalim Panchayat have raised their serious concerns over the slow pace of work. Vasco-based social activist Preetam Keluskar slammed the state government for not providing due attention to the grade separator project at Dabolim.
He said “It appears that the state government is not keen on completing the project merely because they want to promote Mopa with the intention to shut down Dabolim in future. Presently Dabolim Airport has been lacking in several facilities and most importantly the parking facility and by delaying grade separator project, government apparently is forcing the citizens to face traffic congestion at airport junction. If the third Mandovi Bridge can be given priority then why not grade separator project at Dabolim,” he questioned.
When Herald contracted Chicalim Panchayat Sarpanch Neelima Naik, she too raised her serious concerns over the slow pace of work.
Former Dabolim MLA Mauvin Godinho said that “I am not satisfied with the pace of work. Actually I have already asked them to expedite the work as the same was supposed to be completed by March 2017. I will again meet the GSIDC officials and would ask them to intervene so that the work could be completed on priority”.