‘Those who attended meet should quit if plan is not scrapped’

Upping the ante, Vijay Sardesai, Independent MLA, on Thursday demanded that the Ministers in the BJP-led coalition government who attended the ‘anti-Mopa airport’ public meeting in Margao on Wednesday should resign if the State government failed to scrap the proposal.

Mr. Sardesai, who is closely associated with the demand to scrap the Mopa airport proposal in north Goa, was speaking to presspersons in the backdrop of the meeting at Lohia Maidan on Wednesday.

Minister for Environment and Forests Alina Saldanha and Fisheries Minister and Independent MLA for Navelim Avertano Furtado attended the meeting organised by ‘Goans for Dabolim Only’. Among the four other MLAs, who were also present at the rally, two support the government — Independent MLA for Velim Benjamin Silva and Goa Vikas Party MLA Caetan Silva.

Mr. Sardesai told the Ministers not to indulge in doublespeak: enjoying ministerial positions in the BJP government and “pretending to oppose the Mopa airport proposal” at the same time.

Lauded

Lauding Fr. Eremito Rebello’s proposal of asking the Indian Navy to hand over the required land at Dabolim to expand the existing airport, Mr. Sardesai said that this would meet the needs of Goa forever and hence the need for the Mopa airport would never arise. However, he lamented that Wednesday’s meeting failed to set any deadline for the State government to respond to the demand to scrap the Mopa airport project.

He said that as this was a problem created by politicians, the meeting should have sent out a clear political message to the Goa government.

‘Prove commitment’

Mr. Sardesai said that the time had now come for south Goa Ministers and MLAs to prove their commitment to the cause of “Dabolim only’” by setting a deadline for their government to halt the ongoing process of tendering, land acquisition and so on. They should resign and withdraw support to the government if the demands were not met to prove that they were at Lohia Maidan of their own will and not as puppets of the Chief Minister, he said.

Threatening to intensify the agitation if the government failed to scrap the proposal, ‘Goans for Dabolim Only’ had called for an immediate stop to all proceedings pertaining to the Mopa airport.

The organisation also demanded that the government return the acquired land to its rightful owners.

‘Listen to reason’

Convener of the meeting Fr. Rebello exhorted the Manohar Parrikar government to listen to reason and declare Dabolim as the only civilian airport in Goa. The meeting, among other issues, demanded that the Navy allow complete civilian use of the Dabolim airport, which is under its jurisdiction, as well as expansion to cater to Goa’s future needs.