12 Mar 2023  |   04:52am IST

Hidden district land-use plans for implementing unsustainable projects?

Wesley Edward Pereira

I refer to the O Heraldo news reports 'South Goa panchayats slam govt for delay in submitting district development plans'( March 5, 2023) , 'State govt to undertake alterations in RP 2021'(March 3,2023) and 'State seeks NITI Aayog's help to prepare new RP 2041' ( November13,2022).

The Mopa airport tender process was taken up in a hurry without site clearances and approvals. There was lack of adequate project preparation by the Technical and Financial consultants. Neither the scope of works nor the master plans with the required linkages to the transportation networks were defined for the phase wise development of   Mopa Airport project. There are no proper feasibility studies to confirm the need for Mopa airport near the Goa-Maharashtra boundary to meet the sustainable air traffic requirements of the tiny State of Goa. Also, all the required project impact assessment studies have not been completed. Therefore, the project design reports, the  project master plans for phase-wise airport development for cargo and passenger transportation, airport connectivity and business plans /revenue model for Mopa airport project that were considered for the tender process  to select  the airport developer were hypothetical, based on unacceptable assumptions.

According to the Terms of Reference (refer page 44 of 138) highlighted in the financial consultancy tender document (December 2011), the selected financial consultant for Mopa airport was required to prepare the Project Information Memorandum. It is shocking that even after nearly three years, there was only a two-page Project Information Memorandum (refer Appendix VII/ page 111& page 112) in the Mopa Airport Request for Qualification (RFQ) document (3 October 2014). The Information Memorandum for the project was required to provide details on the project background and airport master plan, transportation connectivity and linkages, essential services and infrastructure upgrading plans, project structure, policy framework, project clearances and approvals and airport related pre-development works.

The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) policy has been scrapped in the tiny rural-urban State of Goa. It is therefore shocking that the State of Goa was included in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ) of South Konkan-Maharashtra under the Sagarmala project. Serious attempts are being made to notify Mopa Airport influence area near the geographical boundary of the tiny state of Goa. The objective is for promoting unsustainable road, rail /metro, inland waterways, air/helicopters transportation  plans in the eco-sensitive Western Ghats with connectivity to Mopa Airport and surrounding region. These massive transportation networks are for the requirements of  Special Economic Zones and other mega industrial development projects and policies of Karnataka and Maharashtra. 

In the Terms of Reference (refer page 24 of 115) of Mopa Airport technical consultancy bid document (September 2010) to prepare the project master plan and preliminary project report, it is clearly stated that Belgaum, Hubli, Karwar and Dharwad are in Goa. It is further mentioned in the Terms of Reference of the September 2010 bid document that location of Mopa is suitable for the large-scale project that Goa wishes to launch for benefiting towns and cities such as Sangli, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Kolhapur in Maharashtra.

The SEZ/CEZ development projects are to be implemented under the Bengaluru-Mumbai industrial/investment/economic corridor and other industrial corridors that passes through Hubli, Dharwad, Belgaum and Kolhapur and also under the South Maharashtra-South Konkan Coastal Economic Zone through the Sagar Mala and Bharat Mala project development initiatives. The  unsustainable Rs 2000 crore centrally -sponsored Circle road project that will connect all the entry points -Patradevi, Mollem, Keri, Pollem  in Goa  with a single point is required for promoting  SEZ/CEZ projects linked to Mopa Airport.

The protection of the biodiversity and eco-sensitive river systems of the Western Ghats and surrounding region is critical for the survival of the tiny State of Goa. For the feasibility of Mopa Airport in Goa, the long-term Airport Development Plans covering the three states of Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka are to be implemented by destroying the biodiversity and eco-sensitive river systems of the Western Ghats and surrounding region through various project development and management authorities involving the three states.

In order to achieve the urgent target of Sustainable Development Goal(SDG)-6, the Regional plan for Goa policy document should define a regulatory framework to protect the long term land-use plans of the water-related ecosystems /eco-sensitive areas for tackling climate change and risks to water security.  There is an urgent need to reject unsustainable development projects that are in conflict with the SDG -6 target objectives and prevent man-made disasters.


Idhar Udhar