It’s time for a Revolution
Britain voted to leave the EU. This was the first time, since 1975 that the British people got to decide their future. The Referendum “To Leave” was the best exercise in democratic practice.
India on the other hand is not new to Referendums; we have seen six Referendums since 1947. Goa in 1967 had an Opinion Poll, where Goa voted against being merged with Maharashtra. In doing so, Goa established her Konkani identity.
Goa has been seeing a number of projects being given the go-ahead under the Investment Promotion Board (IPB). Majority of these projects have met with protest, but still the government has turned a blind-eye and a deaf ear to the cries of her citizens. The Chief Minister and his stooges have acted like real estate brokers’, selling priceless Goan lands in the name of development.
Among all the projects that have got the go-ahead in the present and past, the Greenfield airport at Mopa, Mr. Parrikar’s pet project is the one that has been in the eye of the storm since its announcement in 2000. There was strong opposition from citizens of Goa and environmentalists towards the Mopa Greenfield airport. Till date opposition continues.
Why is there a need to have a second airport at Mopa, in the small state of Goa? Why do we need to create another white elephant spending taxpayers money? Instead of Mopa, we can easily use the Greenfield Sindhudurg airport being built at Chipi-Parule, which is only about 100 km from Goa’s border. But No! This is not meant to be, Goan politicians have rallied with the Central government and managed to relax the rule that states, “Airport have to be situated at a distance of 150Km from one another.” Mopa is only somewhere between 50kms to 80 kms from the Dabolim airport. We now have three international airports—Dabolim, Mopa and Sindhudurg.
When it comes to Mopa, the government has been acting like a dictator. Politicians have been pushing for Mopa, which is only going to benefit a handful of political and elite business groups who have invested heavily in acquiring land in and around Mopa.
In all my previous articles, I have continuously been stating that Mopa is unviable, why—studies indicate that the location is not suitable for an airport as it is on a table top (just like the Mangalore airport) and quite tricky to operate take off and landings especially in the monsoons.
The government’s take on Mopa to be developed as a cargo hub, is all gobbledygook. Statistics have shown that there is a global trend of decline in transporting cargo by air as it is expensive compared to other transport options like road, rail and sea. Further, transporters prefer to transport cargo using available space in passenger aircraft as it is a viable and cheaper option for the airline and the shipper.
The environmental damage Mopa will cause is unimaginable. Aircraft landing and taking off will cause catastrophic destruction to vegetation and farming, in and around Mopa. While globally, countries are fighting to save the environment by opposing increasing number of airports, aerodromes and airstrips our leaders are welcoming more.
The government, politicians and elitist are wooing Goans on Mopa, with fairytales of how jobs will be created for the youth. Till date, where have we seen Goan youth occupying top positions in the State, most of the top positions are given to those from other states. Another question we seriously need to ask, is how many of our Goan youth have an education in aviation? And those who do have, how many of them stay back or have stayed back?
With Mopa, we will see a large influx of labour from neighbouring States, who on completion of the project will stay back. In addition, the cost of hiring labour is going to be a really expensive affair for the State. These issues have been raised regularly by me and others but then– who listens? Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel said, “It is a folly to ignore realities; facts take their revenge if they are not faced squarely and well.”
To have or not have Mopa is battle that has now become one of ego and prestige for the elites pushing for it. But, in all this it is the villagers who are being affected, as the elites and elected representatives arm-twist and force the villagers of Mopa into accepting the brand of development being put forth by them. Why should the villagers who have been cultivating their forefathers land be displaced? Where is Democracy? Political parties, politicians and the elitist in Goa have reduced democracy—a sign of arrogance of office. And the path that is being trodden, is a dangerous and slippery one, duping and deceiving us Goans.
It is time we rethink the rules of the game and have a Referendum, in regards to the Mopa airport. Let us, the people, decide. A Referendum will let the elected politicians know the voice of its voters’ and what we hold dear. It is time to stop being sidelined in planning and governance. We need to take back control of what is ours, without being scared, after all Democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people. It is time to assert our right against those in power. It is time for a Revolution.