THE Town and Country Planning Board has decided to set up a special authority called Mopa Airport Planning Area Authority to take care of the specific requirements in terms of floor area ratio (FAR), height restrictions for buildings, and so on in the area earmarked for the Mopa International Greenfield Airport project as well as its surrounding region. The special authority must ensure that development rules and construction restrictions around the airport are regulated. The new authority should be totally independent and not succumb to pulls and pressures from political masters. With the airport as the hub, development in the area will command a premium and everybody would try to push through the development projects using their political clout. The role of the special authority would be crucial for the planned development of the area without bias.
It would be the responsibility of the special authority to facilitate smooth development of the Mopa International Greenfield Mopa airport site, which measures around 81.29 lakh square metres, and ensure that the project did not face hurdles. Since the project would be undertaken under the public-private partnership mode the requirement of planning for the area would be different and had to be taken care of in a different manner. The state government should ensure that the new authority comprising reputed experts from various fields, including civil aviation, was totally autonomous in drawing up draft development plans and implementing them taking into consideration the future needs of the airport and the surrounding region. The jurisdiction and powers of the authority should not be limited only to the airport project area but also extend to the area around it so as to ensure that illegal and unplanned development is prevented and the whole area is developed in a systematic manner. Most parts of Goa have been plagued by excessive and haphazard development. Here is an opportunity to make the Mopa area and the surrounding region comfortable for residents and visitors alike, with a wide roads, open spaces, public gardens and good drainage.
The work on the Mopa airport project is proposed to start from November 2016 and expected to be completed in four phases. The first phase is expected to be completed by 2019 while the whole project has been scheduled to be completed by 2025. The completion of first phase will help the airport authority to cater to 4.5 million air passengers and the number of is expected to go up to 13.5 million when the final phase is completed. In order to ensure that the work starts on schedule the government has shortlisted four companies under the Request for Proposal (RFP) process to choose one of them at the end of the final date of submission of financial bids. The selection should be made through a transparent process, so as to avoid any litigation, and should be well ahead of time for start of the project work so as to facilitate it to deploy its personnel at the site. Mopa is expected to be the third airport that will be built, operated and managed by a private company after Delhi and Hyderabad airports. The new airport in the state will have landing and take-off facilities for wide-bodied aircraft, something that is not available at the Dabolim International Airport.
With almost all permissions required to initiate work on the new airport from competent authorities having been received, the project should take off as planned and be completed within schedule. The project has already received clearance from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) in October 2015. The authorities should now ensure that the successful bidder does not encounter problems in carrying out the work as scheduled. Those who have been opposing the project for one reason or the other should be taken on board with a view to addressing their apprehensions and ensuring the project did not face hurdles. The central government should also keep their promise as regards to continuing operations at the Dabolim airport and not allow it to meet the same fate as that of Hyderabad and Bengaluru. While the work on the new airport project goes on it should also be the endeavour of the authorities to ensure that four-lane or six-lane expressway comes up in the state so as to provide better and easier connectivity to the airport with the rest of the state. This will help in countering the allegations that the passengers would have arduous task in reaching the new airport. The authorities should also see to it that the project was free from encumbrances and completed in time without compromising on development as planned.