11 Mar 2019 05:23am IST
Since at least 7,00,000 sq mts of fertile land at Mopa are involved, which is the extension of the Western Ghats, and thus an United Nations conservation area, Goa stands to lose this beautiful plateau of rich bio-diversity forever if the Mopa airport comes into existence. Thus it is prudent at this stage to shift the location of the airport to neighbouring states like Maharashtra or Karnataka where large tracts of arid land will be available. It is to be stressed here that the flora and fauna of Mopa is exotic and is home to endangered species like the bisons, pangolins, porcupines, deer, wild boars, civet cats, peacocks as well as several species of trees.
Also, this plateau has 46 natural springs which are of medicinal and curative properties and thus factoring in the fact that the local peasants do not want to part with their land and continue to conduct their occupation as farmers and that the compensation being meted out is less than one fifth of the market value of land in this area, which at least should be Rs 1500 per sq mt if not double that amount, the majority of reasons are against having an airport at this area.
Also 54,676 trees are to be cut, which the Environment Impact Assessment had portrayed as bushes, it is without doubt that this project in Goa should be scrapped so as to save the fragile eco-system of this area and conserve fertile land which is fast becoming sparse in Goa. It should be recalled here that when even one or two trees were to be cut, the owner had to swear an affidavit to the Forest Department after numbering the trees and giving its exact location with boundaries on all four sides. The process was very strict and thus now it clearly indicates that the there is a collusion between the Forest Department and the Goa government and the contractor to fell such a huge number of trees which under normal circumstances would not have been given approval by the Forest Department for sure.
It would have been acceptable if this area was an arid and barren land but considering the diverse flora and fauna of this Mopa plateau, under no circumstances now in the times of climate change and the adverse effect of even rainfall on this region and its surrounding areas, it would be foolhardy to destroy this bio-diverse plateau by cutting so many trees. Also, tourists arrivals in Goa has decreased considerably and under such circumstances Dabolim airport is sufficient for at least another 15 years to bear the load of air traffic into Goa.
Tourists come to Goa for its natural scenic beauty and it is thus ironic that this Mopa plateau, with its exotic bio-diversity should face the axe for all times thus driving away the tourists from Goa, if such wanton felling of trees, destruction of wild life habitat and bull-dozing of natural springs should be the reason why Mopa is shifted to another state like Maharashtra or Karnataka which have huge arid areas where an airport can come up.
The Federation of Rainbow Warriors have to be highly commended for taking up this issue to the Supreme Court and being the foremost environment protecting NGO in Goa. The Goa for Dabolim Only (GFDO) has to stand solidly behind the prevention of the Mopa plateau from being destroyed once and forever.