Mopa RFQ takes off on a rough runway

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 02 October 2014 21:28 IST

Mopa does not seem to be an easy take off for the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP coalition in Goa.

Nearly two decades after mooting a formal proposal in 1995, the Goa cabinet yesterday approved the Request for Qualification (RFQ) document, but only after a heated debate in the cabinet.

The objections reportedly were from two ministers – Environment Minister Alina Saldanha and Fisheries Minister Avertano Furtado, both from Christian-dominated Salcete-Mormugao belt.

“I convinced them regarding the issues they raised. It was mainly out of ignorance”, Parrikar told section of media, indirectly admitting a debate in the cabinet.

The cabinet, held yesterday, had to be prolonged due to reservations raised by both the ministers – Saldanha belonging to the BJP from Cortalim while Furtado an independent from Navelim.

 Saldanha reportedly asked how the government could go ahead with the RFQ even before the Environment Impact Assessment is conducted.

The cabinet note circulated among the media stated that the Concession Agreement would be signed only after the EIA is conducted and the union environment ministry clears the project.

“It is proposed to invite applicants for RFQ in order to prequalify experienced and capable applicants for the Bid stage. The applicant’s competence and capability will be established taking into account their technical capacity and financial capacity”, states the cabinet note.

Goa government has already acquired private land and transferred government land of 2271 acres for the Greenfield international air port at Mopa, covering Mopa, Chandel, Uguem, Casarvarne and Varkhand, of Pedne taluka.

Around 77 acres of more land would also be acquired later on as the air port proposal also includes various other commercial related activities.

Also, the state will acquire around 107 acres of land to build the approach road, connecting the National Highway 17.

The Mopa air port however has been delayed for around two decades now as South Goa and especially Salcete taluka, consisting of chain of five star hotels, is strongly opposing the new air port proposed on the border of North Goa.

The existing Dabolim air port is in the port town of Vasco, overlooking the whole coastal belt of Salcete, where the five star hotels are making booming business.

Though distance from Salcete to Pedne has been made the issue, bone of contention is the fear that the Mopa air port may give rise to new star hotels along Pedne that may affect the existing five start hotels in Salcete.

Besides the Congress and other opposition MLAs from Salcete, the legislators belonging to the BJP and also the supporting parties like Mickky Pacheco’s Goa Vikas Party are having reservations about Mopa.

The efforts of civil aviation ministry to agree in 2010 that Dabolim would continue even after Mopa has not borne expected fruits to resolve the controversy.

The Church, which dominates the Christian-dominated and highly populated belt, is also opposed to the Mopa air port.

Due to this, besides becoming a North-South battle, it also has a little communal tint since Pedne is a Hindu-dominated taluka, which is developing as a tourist destination with its beaches like Morjim, Arambol etc.

The objections from two ministers thus appear to be reflection of this whole political background, which may compel Parrikar government to go slow on the project till next Assembly election, scheduled in 2017.

The RFQs, once received, will be evaluated on the basis of their experience in development of air ports – both Greenfield and Brownfield as well as experience in air port operations and projects of core sectors like power, information technology, ports, highways, expressways, railways and real estate development.

The RFQs will be shortlisted based on marks given, with first six getting 70 marks or above. In case of not having such applicants, the 70 mark criteria would then be lowered to pre-qualify six applicants.

Though the BJP has been the strong proponent of Mopa air port in tune with the Hindu-dominated North Goa constituencies, the present BJP-led coalition is in quandary since it has five MLAs from Christian-dominated areas to make the saffron brigade a 21-strong party in the 40-member House.

In addition, the coalition government is supported by four other MLAs – 2 of GVP from Nuvem and Benaulim and two independents from Velim and Navelim.

The runway of Mopa is thus not comfortable to take off with the project, at least till next Assembly election. 

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Previous Comments

Goa is so small that only one airport can exists. Then why not Dabolim Airport. Let Dabolim Airport be upgraded upto the International Level. Also Dabolim Airport is in the Center. It is benefiting both South & North Goans. If Mopa Airport starts then it will be at the corner of Goa and South Goans (even North Goans) has to go deep inside Goa (neighboring Maharashtra) to reach Mopa Airport. Regarding Airport Jobs then it required IATA Certified Certificates, which I think hardly any Goans has it. Regarding Porter/Cleaner jobs then that will be given to the Company and Company will decide to bring from Outside Goa or hire from Inside Goa.

- Mathew Dias, Goa | 03 rd October 2014 13:41

 

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