Panaji : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Monday criticised the ruling Congress-led coalition in Goa for delaying construction of the Mopa international airport in north Goa and said this would cause the state to lose its tourism pie to Maharashtra.
Speaking to reporters in Panaji, former state BJP chief and legislator Laxmikant Parsekar said that constant dilly-dallying and power struggles within the ruling dispensation had resulted in delaying the project by more than four years.
“The Maharashtra government has already performed bhoomi pujan (religious ceremony before starting construction work) at the Chipi site last week and we have not even been able to acquire land for the airport yet,” said Parsekar, a legislator from Mandrem, a constituency close to Mopa village that borders Maharashtra.
Mopa is approximately 80 km from Chipi, in Sindhudurg, Maharashtra, where the union ministry for civil aviation has also approved a greenfield airport.
“The Mopa airport was cleared by the union government and the land acquisition proceedings had already been initiated five years ago. This government let the process to lapse. If the Chipi airport is constructed before the Mopa project, all of north Goa’s tourism would be diverted to Maharashtra,” said Parsekar, adding that it would cause a major dent in the state’s revenue.
In 2004, the state government had identified 10 million sq metres land at the Mopa plateau in north Goa for construction of an airport, in addition to the Dabolim international airport located in south Goa. The Mopa airport was envisioned as a facilitator of tourism for the relatively unexplored coastal stretch in north Goa.
Incidentally, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), a semi-government body contracted to oversee the development of the Chipi greenfield airport, in its project report states that the objective of the new airport in Sindhudurg was to develop the region as a tourism district and to “exploit the proximity to Goa and capture sizeable tourist traffic coming to visit Konkan and north Goa”.