Special Correspondent

It will have extended apron and additional international terminal

  • Meeting calls for fresh techno-feasibility report
  • Question raised on land in Navy's possession

    PANAJI: The Airports Authority of India will complete the upgrading and expansion of facilities at the Dabolim international airport by the end of 2007.

    An AAI representative gave this information on Thursday at a meeting of a committee, set up by the Civil Aviation Ministry to study the proposed Mopa airport in Goa.

    "This [expansion] would comprise extending the apron and building an additional international terminal," Shantaram Naik, committee member, told The Hindu on Friday.

    The meeting asked the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to conduct a fresh techno-feasibility report on the Mopa international airport proposal, taking into consideration the continuation of the Dabolim airport facility for civilian traffic.

    Rane presides

    Mr. Shantaram Naik and Sripad Naik, both members of Parliament; Chief Secretary J.P. Singh; ICAO Deputy Director Hakim Bashar; ICAO officer Ruben; AAI Joint Director A.K. Mishra; and Transport Director R. Mihir Vardhan attended the meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane.

    Mr. Shantaram Naik said the ICAO's earlier techno-feasibility report did not take into consideration the existing Dabolim airport as the terms of reference did not provide for that.

    At the committee's first meeting, he insisted on knowing about the title of the area in the Navy's possession at Dabolim. At present, the Dabolim airport is under naval jurisdiction.

    According to him, the land belonged to the Goa Government and no title was given to the Navy.

    Referring to the Defence Ministry's reply to him in Parliament recently, he said the Ministry had held title to 1,687.51 acres at Dabolim since April 9, 1962. The land was handed over to the Ministry by an order of the then Military Governor.

    The AAI was using 25.696 acres. Out of this, 14.995 acres was transferred by the Defence Ministry to the Director-General of Civil Aviation on June 22, 1966.

    "Claim not fair"

    Mr. Naik said the land was simply "handed over" as it was required at that time for the military operation for liberation of Goa.

    "The land should have been reverted to the possession of civilian authorities. Claiming title to such land is not fair."

    Asked why he was raising the issue of Dabolim land title, he said: "If this land, which rightly belongs to the Goa Government is available, a Mopa-like airport can be constructed at Dabolim itself, which will be convenient to the people of Goa. It will convenient for the tourists too."

    On the contrary, "if the Navy (Defence Ministry) has title to the land, it will be easier to convince the people of south Goa, who are agitating against Mopa, that since the land belongs to the Navy there is no alternative to going for the Mopa airport."