Dabolim airport dependents would face similar fate as mining affected: Churchill

MARGAO: The former PWD minister, Mr Churchill Alemao, has once again raked up the Dabolim airport issue saying its closure would badly affect the tourism industry and those dependent on it.

Addressing media in Margao, Mr Alemao said, "If the Mopa airport is built, hundred per cent this centrally-located Dabolim airport will be shut down. And, like the 5 lakh people suffering today due to the closure of mining in the state, the taxi drivers and others dependent on the Dabolim airport would also suffer.’’

Stating that a stitch in time can save nine, he said, "I don’t want people of coastal villages to suffer like the people from mining belt. That is why I am creating awareness and urging the people to be alert. In a small state like Goa, two airports are economically not viable.’’

The former PWD minister urged the government to get it in writing from the Civil Aviation Ministry that the Dabolim airport will not be shut down.

"The state government should get in writing from the Civil Aviation Ministry that the Dabolim airport will not be closed if the Mopa airport is built,’’ he demanded.

He explained how the bigger city like Bangalore could not have two airports and one had to be closed down.

According to Mr Alemao, the surrounding areas of the Dabolim airport can be acquired for its expansion.

When asked what efforts he had taken to fulfill this demand when his government was in power in the state, he said that he had held a meeting with the Civil Aviation Minister and had even asked from him in writing that the Dabolim airport would not be shut down even though Mopa airport is permitted.

He was also quick in pointing out that few of his then cabinet colleagues did not support him in this cause.

To a another query as to whether the Civil Aviation Ministry can give assurance to retain the Dabolim airport in writing, Mr Alemao, said that it was for the government to demand "else they should drop the idea of Mopa airport.’’

Mr Alemao, who blamed the former chief minister, Mr Digambar Kamat for losing the best opportunity to scrap Mopa airport, recalled that he had made a move to unseat him with the signatures of 16 MLAs to the Centre, but it did not happened.

"Bridges are required and therefore I tried to construct them on priority in Navelim. However, for the politics played, it could not be completed,’’ stated the former Navelim MLA

He proposed three bridges in Navelim - one connecting Sinquetim to Benaulim, second connecting Assolna to Cavelossim and the third connecting Navelim to Telaulim.

Rubbishing the allegations leveled against him, he said that few people unnecessary opposed it after they came to know that they could not do it during their tenure.

"Politics is played and therefore the bridge could not be completed,’’ he said while briefing the media.

"The Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar, should start the work. The bridges are required. The Sinquetim bridge was proposed by the former sarpanchas of Benaulim and Navelim and hence the proposal was accepted. The bridge is not for Churchill to take home,’’ he quipped.

Mr Alemao felt that the Chief Minister should complete the bridge works without succumbing to the political pressure as it was legally passed and public money were spent on it.

"The Chief Minister should not give a chance to the people to go to courts," he said.