PANJIM: In a strong policy statement by the civilian Government, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday said he was averse to the attitude of ‘possessiveness by the Navy’ and would move towards acquiring land in the latter’s possession for pursuing and completing the expansion plans of the existing airport at Dabolim.
justify; ">The controversial issue has been hanging fire over the last 50 years of Goa’s Liberation regarding takeover of Goa’s land, which was usurped by the Indian Navy as war booty, at the time of Liberation of the territory from the Portuguese colonial regime.
Parrikar was replying to queries in the Goa Assembly on Thursday over Dabolim airport and
expansion plans raised by Dabolim MLA Mauvin Godinho, which are dependent on the acquisition of the land which the Navy is stubbornly refusing to hand over.
Godinho said that the delay in acquiring the 12.52 acres of land from the Navy was hindering the expansion plans and proposed 11 aerobridges for the existing airport.
Pointing out the high-handed manner in which the Navy had held possession of the land without any accountability Godinho said, “the Navy is not furnishing documents to show how they are the owners of the land and are usurping land meant for Dabolim airport expansion”.
Godinho said that just because the Navy’s name was on Form I and XIV, did not make them the owners, pointing out that land beyond the compound wall was much more and that the Government should take necessary steps to get back the land and protect civilian interests.
To this Parrikar replied that it was an area of 2.52 acres that was to be taken over from the Navy. He agreed that the Navy was claiming what is not rightfully theirs.
“I will ask the survey department to fix the boundaries”, Parrikar said immediately reaction to Godinho’s requests, showing urgency on the matter.
Parrikar told the House that even though plans are in the offing for another airport at Mopa, retaining Dabolim airport is a must for Goa and the Government is guaranteeing the House that Dabolim airport will not be affected in any way.
He said, at the moment there was a problem over finance for undertaking the expansion works which is supposed to include a new terminus and 11 aerobridges.
He said the Airport Authority of India has already invested Rs 370 crore out of the estimated cost of Rs 475 crore and that he would urge the Centre to expedite the completion of the new terminus by December end.
He also said that he would clarify with the Centre that Dabolim will be utilized for civilian as well as commercial operations. He agreed that there was need to expand Dabolim airport as there was an increase in air passenger handling especially tourists.
There are 25,000 flights landing and departing and the airport handles 900 passengers per hour. He said he would also take up with the centre the Naval issue.
Stating that adequate parking facilities for taxis are also proposed for Dabolim airport, Parrikar said more money would be needed for additional support systems and for shifting the fuel dumping site which is hazardous for the airport.
Refuting allegations from the Opposition that work on Mopa airport was slow, Parrikar said, “Mopa airport would take at least another four or five years and would cater to wide-bodied aircrafts. It would be operational round the clock and have an airport-cum-transport hub too”.
Agreeing with Valpoi MLA Vishwajeet Rane that Government should envisage future plans at Mopa, he declined a suggestion that Government should freeze land in advance for the same.
Warning land grabbers, he said in case anyone tries to buy land at Mopa, the Government will move to acquire it if required.
So far, 2037 acres of land have been acquired for the airport at Mopa.