12 Jun 2022  |   06:57am IST

Why is Goa International Airport not demarcated in Vasco ODP?

Wesley Edward Pereira

I refer to the news report 'TCP Board to redraft ODPs' (Herald, June 10).

The Dabolim airport was referred to as the existing Goa International Airport at Dabolim in the Information Memorandum (refer to APPENDIX- VII on page 111) of the Request for Qualification (RFQ) document dated October 3, 2014 for the development of Greenfield International Airport at Mopa. There was an interesting front-page news report in the Herald dated December 18, 2016, highlighting the endorsement of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry on the continuation of the existing International Airport at Dabolim. 

However, there was shocking information in the Mormugao Surface Utilisation Plan given in Appendix VII of the final report RPG-21 Regional Plan for Goa-2021 (Release three) issued by the State Level Committee for Regional Plan for Goa-2021. This plan showed the above referred Goa International Airport at Dabolim as a fully defence domestic airport without existing transportation connectivity to the civilian areas for the horizon year 2021.

As soon as the hypothetical long-term draft master plan for Mopa Airport was prepared in the year 2012, there was excitement to have the Goa Vision Document-2035 in a hurry. Neither the Goa Metropolitan Region was defined in terms of the human population nor any land-use plans proposed for the horizon year 2035.

Without long-term sustainable land-use plans for Goa, the hidden multi-modal transportation infrastructure (including roads, railways, inland waterways, helicopters, etc) required for the viability of the proposed Greenfield International Airport at Mopa has the potential to promote rapid unwanted urbanisation. These massive development projects for unsustainable passenger and cargo transportation for the benefit of the neighbouring States and new migrant population (also called tourists!) will wipe out the unique identity and heritage of Goa.

I now refer to the undated Goa Development report of the Planning Commission, Government of India, first published as a book by Academic Foundation; New Delhi in the year 2011. This report prepared in collaboration with the Institute for Change Research, Panjim is available on the website of the Planning Commission of India/NITI Aayog along with the Development reports of 21 other States/Union Territories of India. The names of persons involved in the preparation of the Goa Development report are given on the Acknowledgements page (refer page 21).

Chapter 6 of the report is on infrastructure, transportation, logistics & integrated development. In section 2 (page 115), it is stated that within the next 25 years, about 4 million (40 lakh) new residents will come to Goa. Also, about 90% of those people (36 lakh) will settle in Panjim, Margao and Vasco. This implies that there could be three cities (Panjim, Margao & Vasco) in Goa, each with a population of more than 10 lakh new migrants!

Can the present geographical areas of Panjim, Margao and Vasco accommodate 36 lakh new migrants? Or are the new migrants going to settle in Goa by destroying the neighbouring villages, mainly in Tiswadi, Bardez, Salcete & Mormugao Talukas?

The above referred Goa Development Report highlights the release of the Dabolim Airport to the Naval authorities after the new Airport at Mopa takes shape and becomes operational (refer page 188). 

GMR Airports Ltd was selected as a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) contractor for Mopa Airport. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) was one of the unsuccessful bidders in the tender process. Did the BOT contractor sign any concession agreement on September 21, 2016? And has the unsuccessful bidder namely Airports Authority of India (AAI) been appointed the Project Authority for Mopa Airport? Is this process linked to the release of Dabolim Airport to the Naval Authorities?

In order to ensure the long-term survival of the existing Goa International Airport at Dabolim, there is an urgent need to properly demarcate the existing Goa International Airport land use with the transportation connectivity in the Outline Development Plan (ODP) of Vasco/Mormugao.