Minister for Civil Aviation and Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu on Monday said that the Dabolim airport will be mordernised and renovated with an extension of terminals, multi-layer parking etc to ensure that it remains functional to meet the growing demands of tourism in Goa.
“Goa has its own unique identity, which has to be retained, maintained and its value enhanced,” said Prabhu while addressing a press briefing at Dabolim in the presence of Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, PWD Minister Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar, Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza, Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardessai, Panchayati Raj Minister Mauvin Godinho, Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte, airport director Bhupesh Chand Hans Negi and other officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
“You are aware of the new airport coming up at Mopa in addition to the present airport at Dabolim, which is being redeveloped with a lot of infrastructure works involving expansion of terminal building, three additional parking bays at a cost of Rs 256 crore, construction work of parallel taxi track estimated to cost Rs 187 crore, modification and commissioning of multi-level car
parking and upgrading and renovating the existing washrooms,” he said.
Prabhu said that the central government, in collaboration with the Goa government and private partners, is working towards promoting Goa as a tourist destination as well as a cargo hub. “There are great possibilities of using airport in Goa for transportation of cargo which can create huge job opportunities for farmers in Goa to grow vegetables and fruits where they can get an international market, obviously with a better price,” Prabhu said.
He said that the central government has launched a skill development programme, which will result in creation of jobs in the aviation sector. “In order to promote skill development, we are identifying service sector as a major growth engine with the help of ministry of commerce and industry,” he said. The minister said that under the Invest India initiative, Goa has been propagated as a top investment destination. “This will also facilitate Goa as a destination for investment,” Prabhu told the reporters after overseeing the expansion work of the Dabolim airport. He announced that Goa will observe Innovation Day on April 26.
He also said that the taxi drivers’ grievances would be looked into as the AAI will enter into an agreement with Goa government to operate an additional counter, which will be run by Goa tourism to ensure local taxis get more opportunities. At this counter, local produce and products from Goa will be sold. He also said that the multi-level car parking facility at Dabolim airport will be commissioned in his presence in the month of July this year.
Stating that Goa could be an ideal example of a state and the Centre working in collaboration, Prabhu said that he held a meeting with international airlines to market Goa as a tourist destination. “I had a meeting with global CEO of Singapore airlines and I told him to market destinations in India, particularly Goa. I am going to do it with all leading airlines including Emirates, Lufthansa. This is a major programme that we will launch so that Goa gets more tourists,” he said.
Prabhu said that Goa will host ‘Global Venture Capitalists’ by inviting World Bank officials and International Finance Corporation in the month of June this year in order to have a round table, aiming to make Goa the national capital for start-ups and also to nurture an ecosystem for start-ups in the country.
Meanwhile, president of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa and member of Airport Advisory Committee Savio Messais raised concern over the day-to-day maintenance works of the runway carried out by the defence at Dabolim airport, affecting the slots allocated to the chartered flights that arrive in Goa since the last several years.
Messais, who attended the review meeting chaired by Prabhu, raised the issue of the Indian Navy’s plan to close the runway on Saturdays and Sundays for the proposed maintenance works. He said that the closure of the runway on Saturdays and Sundays might affect the chartered flights severely/badly in the state, as majority of the chartered flights land in Goa during the weekends, bringing thousands of foreign tourists. Prabhu later assured to sort out the issue.