Monday, February 23, 2009

Dabolim or Mopa ! The great Goa election gimmick?

The Minister for Aviation dropped a note of great comfort for anti-Mopa communities within the state of Goa. He suggested that the notion of having only one airport and closing the other one is an unfounded theory and a misguided one.

While the expansion of the new airport is a  welcome relief, the closure of the Dabolim airport is a foregone conclusion in the minds of many Goans once Mopa becomes a reality. However the Minister says that both will operate. Great logic!

Interestingly, the Union Minister should know that the Union cabinet of which he is a member is in contradiction to what the Minister claims.Air traffic in Goa is insufficient to support the infrastructure of two airports. Further, Mopa is to be developed on a private-public partnership basis and if Dabolim is also open while Mopa operates, there will be no investor willing to be a guinea pig and invest money in the new international airport.

Such a policy of operating two airports in the long run inside a small state like Goa is  definitely not a sustainable one and very soon economic sense will prevail over the minor grumbles of the anti-Mopa community which will then be defunct and have few teeth to even mumble its opposition.

For some time however I suspect that both the airports are bound to operate.It is a funny suspense which air travelers are bound to face.Currently the dilemma is faced by travellers  on Mumbai-Goa buses whicDabolim airporth are bound for Panjim and if you want to head for Margao, you need to confirm in advance and depending on your destination, take the bus or wait for another one. However many confirmations have gone wrong as many irate passengers on these buses discovered once the bus reaches Panjim and original assurances made to passengers headed for Margao are denied making your tiring journey even more punishing by scouting for another means of transport for Margao.

Air travel is however more organised in their systems but the uncertainty is bound to be very irritating for travelers from South Goa who may have to take the flight to Pernem in urgent times thereby making the travel agonising.

Mopa is bound to be the modern airport with the best planning and execution. It will contain the latest methods and gadgets which are in tune with modern airports. Besides Mopa has a luxurious land availability which will assist towards the enormity of planning such a massive project. Dabolim will therefore be relegated to a secondary or a domestic destination for a while whereas Mopa will be elevated immediately to the International status. In time, Dabolim will close and be handed over to the Indian Navy. Modernising the Dabolim airport is not going to go to waste. The Navy will use the facilities and the justification will have little opposition.

All this song about Dabolim being one among the two Goan airports is bound to fade once the election fever subsides and agitations cease. We will then be expected to gulp all the assurances with a pinch of salt. And if the Minister is not in his chair by then( which is highly probable), the new one will wash off his hands and there will be no accountability for the statements or their credibility. What a system of clinical politics! Alas Goa!

Xittuk Goencar

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