MOPA VIMANTALL PIDITT XETKARI SAMITI
H. No 236, SHIMECHEA ADVAN - VARKHAND
Date: 26th July 2010
Shri. Jairam Ramesh
Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests
New Delhi- 110 003.
URGENT APPEAL FOR RECONSIDERATION OF APPROVAL
We are shocked to know that the Central Government has given the nod for a greenfield International Airport at Mopa, Goa on 10th June 2010, without carrying out essential studies regarding the necessity and the feasibility of the project and, equally importantly, without considering the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the proposed project.
The proposed Mopa International Airport initially requires an investment of at least Rs 4000 crores, and shall cause the loss of more than 100 lakhs sq meters of fertile lands belonging to 15,000 farmers, who shall not only lose their lands, but also their livelihoods. In the view of the huge costs, a detailed techno-commercial feasibility report should have been prepared by experts before commencing acquisition proceedings. Similarly, an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) would seem mandatory before locating the Airport on Mopa plateau, considering the fact that the plateaus and upper slopes in the plateau region of
The traditional ecological communities belonging to Mopa and its neighboring villages are facing a grave threat today due to the proposal for construction of an
The fact is that this grandiose project is absolutely unnecessary and threatens to reverse the socio-economic development that our State has witnessed over the past few decades. The arbitrary decision to construct a second
We wish to bring to your immediate notice the following facts which clearly show that the arbitrary decision of the State Government of Goa needs to be scrapped without delay in order to save precious money and time, and to save Goa in general, and the Taluka of Pernem in particular, from certain and irreversible destruction:
ROLE OF THE UNION GOVERNMENT
1. It is the Union Government’s responsibility to ensure that Greenfield International Airports are not constructed at the wrong places. However, the approval of a second
2. Airports are crucial centers of development of the Nation. While well chosen sites for Greenfield Airports have the potential to catalyze economic growth, poor or misconceived site selection is sure to wreak havoc on the existing economy. It is therefore absolutely critical that a Nation must not make any error in the selection of sites for new Airports and that such decisions follow detailed and thorough study of all possibilities and options available. In the case of the proposal for
3. Airports require huge investments from the State, and can make or break the economy of a region depending on whether they are successful or not. Such large investment of the Public Funds must surely not go waste, since a failed project of this magnitude would seriously damage
5. While planning new Airports, it is important to first ensure that the site selection is not influenced by vested interests. In particular, speculation in land is recognized as the most serious threat to proper site selection. In the case of
6. The local politicians have falsely portrayed the need for a second
7. The Policy of Airport Infrastructure (source: Ministry of Civil Aviation, December 1997) states that no
ARBITRARY ‘WISH’ OF THE STATE GOVERNMENT
The Goa Government has arbitrarily decided that it needs a second Airport, without carrying out any studies regarding the feasibility of two International Airports within the tiny State. This arbitrary decision is bad due to blatant failure of the State Authorities to apply their mind, to carry out planning, and to follow essential procedures.
If proper norms and procedures had been followed, the following considerations would have required the planners and decision-makers not to plan for a second Airport in
1. The existing
3. The Mopa plateau lies about 20 nautical miles north of the
5. The existing
6. In addition to the issues raised in paragraph 2 above, the feasibility of a second Airport in
BASIC FLAWS IN THE ‘REPORTS’ PREPARED BY THE GOVERNMENT
The State Government has attempted to justify its demand for a second
1. The appointment of M/s Bhagat Infrastructures to prepare the preliminary feasibility report can be termed a farce, based on the prima facie evidence collected under the RTI Act. Firstly, the company seems to be the front office for a Spanish company eager to bag Airport construction projects, especially the
2. Critique of ADPi preliminary feasibility report.
a. This report does not touch the issues of the necessity and feasibility of a second Airport. The consultant does not have any mandate to study the feasibility of a second Airport in
b. There are no environmental or socio-economic studies carried out by the consultant. This can easily be verified by comparing the statements made in the report with the ground reality.
c. The report includes some gravely erroneous statements and excludes many significant facts regarding the Mopa plateau. It mentions that there are no permanent structures within the Airport site. It goes on to say that some nomads build a few temporary kutcha huts when they bring their cattle to graze on the plateau. It then concludes that there are no rehabilitation issues related to the use of this land to build an Airport. But in reality, the environmental and socio-economic impact of the proposed airport is massive. There are about 150 permanent houses, some of them around 200 years old, inside the land to be acquired. The extensive agricultural activities on the plateau and its sides are not mentioned in the report at all. There is also no reference to unique Dhangar settlement on the plateau, or to the ancient religious significance of the plateau to the villagers from the surrounding villages.
d. The report mentions that the lower plain ground can be used for commercial activities, housing complexes and other infrastructure for the
e. The lands to be acquired for the Airport include, or are adjoining, vast stretches of cashew plantations, which constitute the major commercial crop for the farmers. It is roughly estimated that the agricultural produce from the plateau and the slopes around it is valued at more than 50 crores of rupees every year, which equates to the subsistence of more than 15,000 families.
f. Existence of substantial infrastructure for the residents in the form of school, electricity installations, roads and irrigation canals etc have not been considered in the report.
g. The State Governments of Goa and
The Mopa Plateau is also extremely important as the major aquifer in the region, feeding tens of thousands of families with water for their daily needs and for irrigation. The numerous springs and wells in the region are recharged and fed by the aquifer lying under the plateau. The construction of the airport shall surely affect this aquifer, and the persons, economies and environment dependent on it, adversely.
It is seen that the environmental impact of the proposed airport is going to be significant to say the least. However, no studies have been conducted on the environmental impact, while the acquisition proceedings have been started. This is an incorrect procedure, especially for such a large project located in a ecologically sensitive area.
The proposed airport is threatening about 15,000 persons with direct displacement and many more indirectly. There is no study done about the impact of the new airport on various sectors of the existing economy of the region, or on the fragile fabric of this agrarian society. The Government reports are completely oblivious to the massive socio-economic displacement this airport shall cause and attempts to hide the facts by saying that there shall be no socio-economic impact at all. This is obviously a misrepresentation.
The decision taken to build a second Airport can only be justified on the basis of rapid growth in tourism in the state of Goa, but bad policies allowing mining to destroy the forests and water resources, uncontrollable garbage and sewage that have polluted places of tourist interests, and scandals of sex, drugs and violence have badly affected tourism in the state. It is clear today that the assumption that tourism in Goa shall keep on growing is wrong and that the challenge facing tourism in
It is seen that absolutely no socio-economic impact studies have been carried out for this massive development project. The Government is blindly pursuing a decision that is marred with complete lack of application of mind and failure to recognize the need of the hour. Without carrying out the requisite studies, embarking on such a large project in this densely populated agricultural region is certain to cause tremendous socio-economic upheaval and displacement.
This is a desperate appeal from all the citizens of
We humbly request you:
· To direct the State Government to cancel the acquisition proceedings for
· To direct the State Government to stay the acquisition proceedings for Mopa International Airport, while the Central Government studies the necessity and feasibility of a second International Airport in Goa, and the environmental and socio-economic impact of the proposed Airport on the site selected and the rest of the State.
Having placed our confidence in your foresight and wisdom, we await your urgent response to this desperate and final plea to save our lands and the lives of the future generations.
For Mopa Vimantall Piditt Xetkari Samiti
Sandip Kambli ( Secretary)