Goa Congress on Monday dubbed the proposed international airport at Mopa in Pernem taluk of north Goa a "land fraud" and demanded that the land acquired for the same be reverted back to the tribals and farmers under the Right to Forest Act. Giving up the party's ambivalent stand on the proposed international airport ahead of parliamentary election, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president John Fernandes said that the Mopa airport was the dream of some vested interests and that it was not on the agenda of the Congress party.

Moreover, he said Madhav Gadgil committee on Western Ghats had already declared the land as environmental fragile zone and is listed on the UNESCO, and therefore, no airport could be permitted at Mopa. He also feared that the air strip would destroy the wildlife in the vicinity. Opposing the proposed greenfield airport at Mopa, Mr. Fernandes said that the new airport would never come up and that the existing Dabolim airport in south Goa, which is being expanded, would be retained solely for civilian use.

Mr. Fernandes said that necessary clearances have not been given to the proposed project. The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had not granted permission for the airport at Mopa and

even Defence clearance has been pending. He alleged that some corrupt politicians and the State government were supporting the proposed airport.

He demanded that the 81 lakh square metres of land acquired by the government belongs to tribal and dhangar community. "Mopa (airport) is still an unborn baby. It is a myth created to divide North Goa and South Goa," Mr. Fernandes said.

While the ruling BJP has been unequivocally backing Mopa airport, the Aam Aadmi Party too has already opposed it describing it as a "big land scam".

Spearheading a movement opposing proposed Mopa airport, Goans For Dabolim Only(GFDO), a Church-backed group headed by convenor Fr. Eremito Rebello has brought the dual airport issue on the State's electoral agenda.

GFDO has been opposing the Mopa airport calling it dubious deal of land sharks and real estate developers to gobble eco-sensitive land of farmers. Moreover, GFDO says Mopa would only serve the tourism interests of neighbouring Maharashtra at the cost of south Goa's international tourism. In north Goa, opinion is divided over the issue.

The Lok Sabha polls in Goa will take place on Saturday.