MOU not needed to ensure continuance of airport:Sardinha

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Panaji, Aug 14 (UNI) Ruling out the signing of an MoU between the Goa government and the Centre, GPCC president and MP Francisco Sardinha today said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had assured continuance of the existing airport at Dabolim in South Goa even as a greenfield international airport at Mopa in north comes up in due course.

Reacting to demand of PWD minister Churchill Alemao for signing of the MoU and his threat to quit the government, Mr Sardinha told mediapersons here that the state and the Centre could not sign an MoU as there was no such precedent.

''The existing airport at Dabolim continues even after Mopa comes up. At the same time, it would further be expanded and strengthened with the Centre promising to spend Rs 500 crore for the work,'' he said.

Shantaram Naik, Rajya Sabha MP also from South Goa, had stated yesterday, while addressing a press conference in Margao, that the Centre was committed to protecting the interests of the South Goa.

Both the MPs form part of a six-member high level committee headed by chief minister Digambar Kamat, which had recently submitted its report to prime minister and civil aviation minister in favour of setting up the airport at Mopa at the earliest.

The report was based on the recommendations of the feasibility report presented by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which had given its okay to Goa to have the two airports to cope with the tourist rush, particularly chartered flights from abroad.

More than 20 lakh tourists, both domestic and foreign, visit Goa every year for holiday and the number is increasing every year.

The Dabolim airport, which is getting choked for want of expansion and modernisation, is expected to handle at least 2,500 passengers per day after the developmental works including construction of aerobridges and luggage handling equipment, besides additional parking bays.

The airport at Mopa is expected to become a hub for cargo handling for the entire Westren India, to ease the congestion at major airports like Mumbai.

UNI BM SSS AB UCS2211

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