Goa to have both Dabolim, Mopa airports to promote tourism

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Panaji, Aug 1 (UNI) Nailing suspicion that the existing Navy- controlled South Goa's Dabolim airport will be closed after building of an international airport at Mopa in North Goa, the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured the state against such a decision.

''We will lead the agitation if the assurance goes wrong in case of Dabolim,'' claimed GPCC president and MP Francisco Sardinha here today while reacting to media reports that PWD Minister Churchill Alemao had threatened to join anti-Mopa forces if the Centre failed to disbandon Dabolim.

He is part of the six-member high-level committee, constituted by the Prime Minister, on the feasibility of setting up of airport at Mopa. Other members included North Goa MP Shripad Naik and Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik, besides officials of the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The committee, headed by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, had recently submitted its report in favour of Mopa to Prime Minister on the strength of the feasibility study report of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Asked whether the party would initiate action if Mr Alemao, known for his tantrums and vitriolic outbursts ever since he became MP from South Goa and later minister in Kamat cabinet after quitting Save Goa Front before June 2 last elections, Mr Sardinha said it was too early to presume.

He said wiser sense should prevail on anti-Mopa forces, who had been trying to make political gain out of it.

''I, along with Shantaram, both hailing from South Goa, would lead the agitation if something goes wrong against the assurance of Prime Minister,'' he said.

Mr Sardinha said the Centre was spending about Rs 500 crore on expansion and strengthening of Dabolim airport, which has now been saturated to cope with the ever-increasing tourist rush to Goa.

Hence the international airport at Mopa, he added.

Meanwhile, the state government had invoked emergency clause to acquire about 2,500 acre of land required for the Mopa airport to launch the project on a war-footing level.

The project is expected to provide thousands of jobs to the youth, besides meeting the air traffic requirements of growing tourism sector, complementing the Dabolim airport.

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