Anti-Mopa airport movement gathers momentum in Goa

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Panaji, Aug 6 (UNI) Like-minded political parties and several Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs) have joined forces to launch a united movement against the proposed international airport at Mopa in North Goa at the cost of the existing one at Dabolim in South Goa.

The United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP), which has lost its recognition as a recognised political party recently, took the lead in forming an action committee of like-minded political parties and NGOs to fight against the state's efforts to build the airport.

This followed a public meeting held last evening in the commercial city of Margao by the UGDP which resolved to uphold the cause of Dabolim, saying the Mopa project was anti-people.

Meanwhile, PWD minister Churchill Alemao, who had been consistently against Mopa project ever since he resigned as south Goa MP and the Congress party before June 2, 2007 elections, maintained that he would continue to oppose the project.

As the Congress minister in the Digambar Kamat government, Mr Alemao demanded a memorandum of understanding between the Centre and the State assuring that Dabolim airport would not be closed after setting up of Mopa airport but efforts be made to expand the airport to meet the galloping demand of tourists.

Initially, he had announced that he would participate in yesterday's UGDP meet but later wisdom dawned on him as it would attract anti-defection laws costing him his seat of power.

Mr Kamat, who headed the six-member high level Central committee appointed by by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Mopa airport, had recently submitted its report to the Prime Minister in favour of the airport.

The committee based its recommendations on the strength of the feasibility study conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Meanwhile, the state government had invoked emergency provisions for acquiring 2,500 acres of land for setting up of the airport at Mopa.

The anti-Mopa activists fear that the closure of Dabolim airport following setting up of the greenfield airport at Mopa could affect the hospitality industry in South Goa.

The chief secretary J P Singh had, meanwhile, made it clear that the Centre had lifted a clause that there should not be any green field airport within the radius of 50 km from the existing airport, thus facilitating setting up of the Mopa airport.

UNI BM SSS NY KN1905

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