Flying!!... But with feet on the ground

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
24 May 2013 00:18 IST

Sadly , as is the usual trajectory in the Goan political discourse, the Mopa v/s Dabolim debate is set to be derailed into a North v/s South ; “Development”  v/s “Non-development” issue and even if muttered under one’s breath, increasingly, a Catholic v/s Hindu issue.

The first question, I was asked, when I weighed into the debate was: “since when did you become a Church   agent?” (Of course, when the Church   articulates a sustainable development model during a Congress rule, it becomes the paragon of patriotic virtue, anytime else, it gets branded an anti--national, subversive organization)

So, let us look at the fault lines in the two arguments in this debate and then state the case for the prosecution



Nowhere on the planet do citizens of a country brand their own armed forces (which in case, one forgets, includes men and women prepared to lay down their lives in our defence)  as “usurpers”; “squatters” and ferociously call for “throwing them out” and “seizing their (or our) land back”

The innuendo, bravado and the appallingly abusive language used by some against our Navy is truly mind boggling and completely unpardonable.

Of course, one has a case, in asking for additional land to expand Dabolim (the ideal solution to the imbroglio) but the tone of language, etiquette and  mutual respect for one another must be civilized.

Well need TO talk to the defense establishment, not AT them if we want a solution. Things may just click then.


This is where we’ve got our beef all wrong and lopsided.

With Maharashtra, having its own problems of corruption, unplanned development, drought, farmer suicides et al why on earth would they want to be saddled with a problem child like Goa?

It’s funny how the virulent Hindutva types blame poor old Portugal when governance in Goa is at rock bottom and the fervent anti--mergerists of the 60’s and 70’s seek to blame poor old Maharashtra when governance is crumbling.

Goa, my dears, is moving on and doing so rapidly and chaotically. Hence, it would be far more sensible to seek our demons, who are within each of us and slay them rather than blame some phantom enemy from without.



Since the anti--Mopa bandwagon originates in Salcete and Salcete being a predominantly Catholic stronghold, this fallacious whisper campaign is floated that this is essentially a Catholic movement (and therefore anti--national ?) and hence needs to be crushed with all the might of the state.

I  vehemently disagree with many of the Church’s teachings but the Church in Goa has over the years consistently articulated a sustainable development model with stringent environment controls. They have assiduously pushed for a moral revolution to curtail rampaging greed in our society. The anti-Mopa argument perhaps stems from this.

 Of course, some black sheep in the clergy and some of the more spectacularly corrupt Catholic leaders have a put a cruel spoke in the Church’s plans but then one ploughs on, even if the fields apparently seem barren.


The campaign is against the proposed airport, NOT  against Pernem surely.

There can be no two arguments that Pernem (as also the mining affected areas) requires a massive infusion of funding and sustained economic activity to improve the quality of life, of our citizens there. But do we require this gargantuan airport to achieve that objective? Can’t we be smarter than that?

We possibly run the risk of converting   Pernem into a twin sibling of Vasco/Mormugao with all its slums, unplanned development, illegal squatting and horrendous levels of pollution.

Frankly, an airport of this sort would be opposed and would be disastrous wherever it were to be located in Goa whether in Quitol or Mopa or  Verna or indeed even in Church ill’s  own backyard.


For me, honestly, this isn’t about the airport at all. That is a distracting side show. The fundamental argument is that a project like this would deal another mortal blow to the Idea of Goa, itself.

The Gods peed to acquire land from farmers in Mopa and fast track the airport at devastating environmental cost and the clear and present danger of attracting another vile bunch of real estate gamblers in one of Goa’s last peaceful enclaves is what is spurring the actual sentiment on the streets against Mopa.

And this sentiment cuts across all languages, religions, caste or meat eating barriers even if not overtly expressed. Just put a ear to the ground.

A simple perusal of land ownership documents in the vicinity of Mopa will tell you the kind of sleazebags who have invested in land there and trust me; none of them are farmers, or dairy owners or horticulturists or proponents of gentle nature friendly tourism.

Really, how many times do the good people of Goa (which includes Non Goans who love this land sometimes more than native sons of the soil) need to send out a message to the powers that be, that poor, blighted confused Goa CANNOT fit into the economic model of the slimy sleazebags but that the economy is what needs to tango in tandem with the idea of Goa. If you want to keep the peace,that is.

But then, I guess the giganti-c ,monstrous “development” elephant must trudge on for the greater glory of the state and the nation or whatever; and if those stupid, little Goan ants get crushed in the bargain after being promised some rosy, fairytale of a future, who the hell cares??

Crony Capitalism, after all must fly high regardless of whether Mopa takes off or not.



Blogger's Profile

Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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Previous Comments

Y is everything politicized in our country??? B it an airport construction in Goa or a disaster is Uttarakhand. When will people wake up? When will we realize that our politicians r taking us for a ride?

As far as the airport goes, I don't know when & how will it help Indians (Goans included). Firstly, there must be a good hospital constructed which caters to all types of patients. It's strange to see that a well developed state like Goa does not have skilled doctors to perform a bypass heart surgery and other major operations. Patients are recommended to travel to Mumbai, Pune or Bangalore for treatment. The fact is doctors in Goa are underpaid. Think about it....

- MK, Mapusa | 24 th June 2013 14:22


Mopa is not going to benefit the people of Pernem and surrounding areas at all. On the contrary, after some years, they will repent for this airport because it will bring in shanties and the local people may have to run far away from this area..

There is absolutely nothing for the local people.

Let the authorities publish the ownership of the land in and around Mopa along with the date of change of ownership. People will be shocked to see that most of the land around the proposed airport has been bought by people who are connected with politicians and big money people of Goa and elsewhere.

The present govt may say that the development around Mopa will be frozen but then, governments change and so do the decisions. Hence, this 'proposal of freeze' cannot be accepted as full proof.

Just because a Catholic priest is the convenor of GOD (anti-Mopa campaign) does not make the movement a Church movement.

It pains to read phrases like 'a Catholic priest led movement' which tries to give a communal tinge to the anti-Mopa campaign but watch carefully and you will see that most of the leaders are secular persons including so many Hindus.

Hence, my request is not to give the anti-Mopa movement a communal 'colour' and confuse the innocent people.

Mopa is not for the benefit of ordinary Goans and specially not for the people of Pernem and adjoining areas. It is for the benefit of people who have already invested in Mopa and in the adjoining areas of Mopa and these people are not likely to allow cancelling the Mopa Airport project at this stage after having invested a lot there.

- Francisco, Goa | 28 th May 2013 11:56


It's terms like " nongoans" and " outsiders" loosely used by seemingly educated people like you that makes living in Goa for people like us so difficult.

After having a domicile, parent owning a property , giving taxes and doing all acts expected of an Indian citizen , if we can be marginalized by terms like " non goans" ie not from Goa then what are those people whose birth origin is not Goa doing there at first place? They are there because we are Indians first!

I am so happy that I left Goa in 2001 and do not have to face such bias on daily basis!

- Shruti Malik, Omaha, NE, USA | 28 th May 2013 01:31


Gopan Manoharachea Mopa

Uddok somplem Opa

Suklim abolim Daboli chim

Duddu na hatant , kabar min

Builderanchea sangatan atam

BJP - Congress joint team!

- Rupesh Jhamli, Malbhat , Margao | 26 th May 2013 10:13


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