Goa pleads for co-existence of Dabolim, Mopa airports

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Panaji, Aug 25 (UNI) Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has said he would lead a delegation to the Centre to plead for the modernisation and expansion of the existing airport at Dabolim in South Goa and its continuance even after the Greenfield International Airport is set up at Mopa in North Goa.

Replying to a call attention motion, given by Aleixo Reginaldo Lowrenco after the Question Hour in the State Legislative Assembly today, the Chief Minister said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had given him assurance that Dabolim would continue to operate even after Mopa.

Referring to the reported non-clearance of the Rs 450-crore investment for the expansion and modernisation of Dabolim by the Public Investment Board, the Chief Minister said he would get the clarification from he Centre on the issue and fight for investment at any cost.

Quoting abstracts from the report of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)-2005, the Chief Minister said the Mopa airport was operationally feasible and financially viable considering the huge growth of air passenger traffic in Goa.

''The airport is being planned to cater to 20 million passengers over the next 25 to 30 years. The financial viability of the airport will depend to a large extent on the ownership and funding patterns based on other models operating in the country like Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kochi,'' he said.

Mr Kamat said the report of the ICAO was basically that an upgraded Dabolim airport, requiring an expenditure of about Rs 500 crore for increasing the apron space and expansion of the passenger terminals and parallel taxiway would serve the growing air passenger traffic in Goa for the next five to six years, after which Dabolim would face saturation owing to land constraints and there fore, no further scope of expansion.

''This is precisely the reason why an international airport at Mopa has been strongly recommended as a long-term solution for the economy and tourism of the state,'' he said.

Quoting again the ICAO report, Mr Kamal said, ''There is no question, however, that a new airport will eventually be required in the near future at Mopa when the enhanced capacity of Dabolim will not cope with the demand.'' MORE UNI BM SR SBC VC1829

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