Thursday 29 January 2015

Objections to Mopa Greenfield Airport massive land grab

Comments on the document procured from Goa State Pollution Control Board titled “Environmental Impact Study for the proposed Greenfield International Airport at Mopa, Goa” published by Government of India in October 2014 prepared by Engineers India Limited (A Govt of India undertaking).

Issued for submission to Public Hearing on 8th October 2014 and issued for comments on 17th February 2014. The report is confirmed by Mr. J.K. Joshi, Head – Environment Division of Engineers India Limited. The members of the EIA team include Jayant Kumar Joshi, Raja Subaratna Prasad, Sudhir Saksena, Dr. Chiranjibi Pattnaik, S.V.R. Subramanyam and P. Jayakumar.

Goa government on 17th July 2012 issued notice to take over 22,88,256 square meters of land and published in official gazette on 2nd August 2012 in series II No. 18.

Public Hearing under Environment Protection Act 1986 will be held on February 01, 2015. The below objectiosn can be filed before 31st January 2015 to Member-Secretary, Goa State Pollution Control Board, Panaji, Goa.


On page 90

“Government of Goa is the owner of the Mopa Airport land.”

Who made the Government owner of the land? Land is passed on to the present generation from earlier generation. And It is a duty of the present generation to transfer it to future generations without sacrileges of airport. Present generation has borrowed this land from the future generation. It is a great tragedy that Goa Government has claimed ownership over these villages like Archbishop of Goa claimed ownership over Vanxim. Traditionally ownership lies with village bodies like communidades. This is a great betrayal of mulnivasi people of Goa.


Page II of the Executive summery

“The Other facilities include ….Golf Course. The estimated cost in Phase I is Rs.1500 crore. An area of 2271 acres is envisaged for project development”
What will be the area for the golf course? Is it going to be 18 hole golf course? What is going to be land allocated to develop golf course? What is going to be the water requirement of this golf course maintenance? What type of grass and fertilizer will be utilized on it? No data is included in document. Is this gold course for greater good of Goa? Or it is Golf curse on Goa? Or there is a plan to shift off shore casinos from Mandovi adjacent to this Golf course onland in Pernem? So for Golf course are blocked through public opposition in Arambol, Paliem, Mandrem, Morjim, Bambolim, Naquerim, Quittol, Betul. Opposition in 1992-1995 and was catalized by Jagrut Goekarachi Fauz (JGF) along with Pernem Coastal Villages Welfare Committee and Quepem Coastal Villages Welfare Committee.


On page 25 of EIA Report

“Micrometeorology with respect to wind speed, wind direction, and temperature, recorded at meteorological station in the months of October, November and December 2011…”

This data is insufficient. There is data needed of at least 5 years with time daily record in time series method. Other wise the safety of aircrafts is at risk. Five year data from 2005 to 2010 has been collected and presented with regard to hour peak rainfall for Pernem on page 11. Why this five year period is ignored when it comes to wind speed and wind directions? The flow of winds are drastically different in other months of any year and may even vary from year to yeas as rainfall data shows  and the three months data cannot be taken as sufficient input to the baseline data.


On Page 91 of EIA Report

“Preventing possession of firearms by project-personnel, except those responsible for security”

This indicates that Airport personnel will be permitted to carry fire arms. The airport will be constructed by corporate body. Corporate are allowed to keep firearms only under Special Economic Zone Act. This means the Mopa Airport will be SEZ – the fact that is carefully concealed in this EIA report. This means administratively it will be governed by SEZ Act and accordingly will be treated as foreign territory even though there are plans mentioned to set up police station at the Airport site. If police presence is factored than what is the permitted law that allows private corporate to carry fire arms? What is the need to include this as mitigation measure? In SEZ labour provisions and Environmental laws applicability is relaxed. As per Controller and Auditor General of India report India has suffered Rs.83,000 crore revenue loss in the last five years due to setting up of SEZs. This means there is going to be the governance though terror of firearms by private personnel of the corporate constructing airport. Page 87 of EIA report states that adequate funds will be allocated towards implementation of traffic management measures….as a Corporate Social Responsibility”. It is clear from this fact that Corporate will be constructing and administrating the proposed airport. Hence corporate will be using firearms. As per deductions flowing from page 91 of EIA report Mopa Airport is for business location and urban development. It is not for protecting environment, forest, rivers, wildlife, traditional occupations and agriculture.


On page 89 of EIA Report

“In the construction phase an influx of construction workers will have impact on some people, as demand for goods and services in the area would increase.”
What is the job security and housing for these workers? Will they be provided with houses or flats? Or they will be made to live in slums like in Birla, Vasco or Chimbel near Panjim? After so called independence in 1947 83 crore of people are living on daily income of less than Rs.20/- per day as per Arjun Sengupta committee report.  Will these laborers settle in Pernem? Affected people is already mentioned as being resettled in Bardez’s Siolim village.


On page 89 of EIA Report

The project affected people would be rehabilitated by government of Goa.”

On page 23 of EIA Report

Alignment alternative option-3 (Siolim 1000 acres) passes through forest area nearby chainage 7+300 both sides. It is learnt that this land would be earmarked for settlement of people whose land would be acquired in land acquisition requirement of this project.”

The memories of re-settlement are painful in case of mining in Pissurlem and Selaulim dam in Sanguem. Do people of Siolim aware of these plans? Plus people rehabilitee from Tillari dam - from whose canal Airport plans to use water meant for irrigation – are still without house number and road access and are on indefinite hunger strike in Dodamarg.


On page 10 of EIA Report

There is a picture of the plateau where proposed Greenfield airport is to be located

Ecologically these types of plateaus are used by wild animals for grazing and more importantly for reception of sunlight. It is misconception that it is barren land and therefore airport can be located on it without guilt. Only problem is that wild animals do not vote at the ballet other ruling parties would have been outvoted.


On page 7 of EIA Report

The airport site…. is located near the Villages of Mopa… and the property is acquired from six villages viz., Varconda, Casarvornem, Amberem, Uguem, Mopa and Chandel….An area of 2271 acres is envisaged for project in phase I excluding airport city is INR 3000 million.”
Who will administer this new city? Panchayats? Municipality? SEZ Authority? Or Contractors building and operating airport? Is there a plan to build airport city? Or it will end up like chaos in Gurgaon, Haryana.


On page 8 of EIA Report

Reserved Forest within 15 kms of proposed site
On pages 42 to 60 of EIA Report
Listed 385 species of plants, 86 species of Birds, 33 species of butterflies, 5 species of Amphibians, 18 species of reptiles and 10 species of Mammals.
Even though this may be gross understatement of life prevalent in varied form is it not foolish to disturb it through imposing of airport so close to reserved forest? It is indeed unethical and in fact foolish destroys such good habitat of the wild for the sake of Proposed Greenfield Airport.  The fact that this forest is not designated as ecologically sensitive area is not a license to impose airport in Mopa. Moreover the land ecosystem is integrated with lifestyle of natives in the vicinity.


On Page VI of the Executive Summery

“For construction phase water will be sourced from Tillari Irrigation Dam….for operation Phase I (2020) 1.2 MLD will be sourced from Tillari Canal. 80% will be sewage.”

Tillari irrigation canal is for irrigation purpose. Proposed airport is not for irrigation purpose and hence Tillari irrigation canal must not be used for anything to do with airport. Canal purpose and Airport purpose does not match. Water is precision it should not be wasted by diverting it for construction and operation of Airport at Mopa. How will water supply compensated for irrigation?


On page 98 of the EIA report
Goa handles 12% of all foreign tourist arrival in India….Goa is the smallest State with less than 2% of India’s land mass – and yet it accounts for nearly 46% of all the mining leases granted nationwide. It is anticipated that the airport development will not only increase and support tourism, but also accommodate the projected growth in business travel and cargo movements in Goa.”

This is a mythic thinking. It is assumed that so much tourism is good for Goa. It has not taken into account the constant clashes of tourism with fisheries in Zuari River for example that are regular phenomena. Proposed airport itself is a direct clash with primary sector occupations like agriculture. In case of mining it promotes imagination that this airport will be used to airlift the manganese, iron ore and bauxite to foreign countries thereby increasing dependency relationships. If this is truly the case then this proposed Airport is shelved lock, stock and barrel. For mining has created far too much damage that Goa can any longer tolerate, a visit to Sirgaon in Bicholim taluka is good example where water table has gone down to 70 meters below mean sea level (MSL) and agriculture is totally stopped due to draining of mining silt into paddy fields. The EIA report does not even mention that about number of water bodies that has gone dry, amount of forest land that has been sacrificed for mining and how much silt has accumulated in riverbeds of Mandovi, Zuari and their tributaries. The logic and concept of economic growth is erroneous and pumped up by publicity but it is resting on fractured foundations.  If the airport plans are for export of ore from Goa then it must be stopped at once. If not then why reference to mining has been included in the EIA report on proposed Airport at Mopa? Why current mining not uplifted from Dabolim? Is it economically feasible? If not, then Dabolim or Mopa does not matter.


Annexure II

Provides location of Rain water harvesting pits Map published by Public-Private Partnership Cell, Government of Goa
This Public-Private Partnership cell of Goa government promotes Capitalism that is against Constitution of India that promotes Socialism by its very Preamble. Setting up of this Cell is in contravention of the Constitution of India. Construction of this proposed Airport through Public-Private Partnership is also against the Constitution of India. Hence it is an anti-constitutional act that must be stalled with immediate effect.


On Page 39 of EIA Report

The 2011 census data shows that the percentage of Agricultural Labourers (Main and marginal) and cultivators (main and marginal workers) are just 3% and 4.35% of the total working population of 3,27,658 persons. This indicates that very small percentage of the total working population in the North Goa district is engaged in agricultural activities”

There is a manipulation through non-inclusion of key data in the document. There is no data included  for agriculture and land ownership pattern for Pernem taluka. There is no data for agriculture in six affected villages of Varconda, Casarvanem, Amberem, Uguem, Mopa and Chandel. Also there is no data provided on mining led destruction of Agriculture in North Goa. It is common knowledge that mining has systematically destroyed agriculture in Sattari and Bicholim talukas in North Goa. Also there is no mention of the fact that State government provided incentives for the discontinuation of agriculture by supplying rice in fair price shop at the rate of Rs.2/-.


On Page 39 of EIA

Demographic profile of the affected six villages of Varconda, Casarvanem, Amberem, Uguem, Mopa and Chandel are given total population as 7298 of which Scheduled Caste as 268 people which is a 3.67% while there are no Scheduled Tribes people in the six villages.

Demographic profile is silent on the OBC and Maratha populations in these villages. This is unacceptable omission. Article 340 of the Constitution deals with Other Backward Classes, Article 341 with Scheduled Caste and Article 342 with Scheduled Tribes; even then it is omitted. While EIA report mentions SC population as 3.67% there is no mention of reservation policy in Airport Employment. This means there are no reservations at all for SC, ST, and OBC population.


On Page 8 of EIA

Water supply for the airport is available from the nearby Kalna River (Also called Chandel River) which is a tributary of Chapora River, in combination with the Tillari irrigation Canal

While Tillari irrigation canal water is clearly for irrigation it is unethical to divert it for Airport construction and operation, There is no study conducted to asses the impact on ecosystem of Chapora River on the pumping of water for Airport. Also there is no study carry reported on impact of water suction on Chandel river fisheries.


On page 2 of EIA

Goa, well known for it beaches and places of worship in India, promotes tourism as its prime industry. As tourism continues to flourish, the demands of the existing Dabolim Airport in Goa are increasing at an unprecedented rate. Capacity constraints and military restrictions are putting an ever increasing strain on the existing facilities for aircraft and passengers alike.

This claims needs to be swallowed with a pinch of salt. Rhodes International Airport in Greece has similar infrastructure as the Dabolim Airport and it is able to handle more movements based on study “DABOLIM AIRPORT  V/s MOPA GREENFIELD Airport” by Vito Gomes who is into Aviation business for the past 30 years. Like Goa Rhodes in Greece is also tourist place.  It is worth comparing this Airport to Goa. In 2011-2012 (1) it handled 3824626 domestic and international passengers combine, while Goa’s Dabolim Airport handled 3521551 international and domestic passengers combine. (2) During this period Rhodes International Airport received all aircrafts except A380, while Dabolim Airport received BAYS 1-9 – (Upto A321, B737-900 ACFTS), BAYS 10-11 (ATR-72) BAYS 5A: (B767, A310, A300) BaYS 6A: (B747-400, A340-600) BAYS 8A: (B747-400, A340-600). (3) Rhodes International Airport had 42 check in counters while Dabolim had 32 during this period. (4) At Rhodes international Airport there is ample private parking for travelers and a lot of free parking space around, while at Dabolim airport 350 cars, 10 coaches. Vehicle parking was a problem during this period.  (5) Rhodes International Airport operated for 24 hours while Dabolim Arport on weekdays from 13:00 hrs to 08.30 hours and on weekends (Sat-Sun) it functioned 24 hours. (6) Rhodes International Airport had 15 bays (including 2 wide bodies) and additional 4 bays for small private aircrafts, while Dabolim Airport had 11 bays (including 2 for small private jets, ATRs and 9 for narrow body or 3 wide bodied).  (7) Rhodes International Airport has an area of only 14.8 acres of land, while Dabolim Airport has 35 acres for Civilian Airport. It is worth noting that proposed Mopa airport is 2271 acres. This is a reduced figure from earlier Terms of Reference of 4,500 acres.

When Rhodes international Airport in Greece functions far better than Dabolim in less than 50% of land it is beyond doubt that the Mopa airport coupled with relaxation of no airport within 150 kms is pure land grab.
Prior to annexation it was a civilian airport and only after 1961 it was worked on by Public Works Department and taken over by Navy, applying their rules and regulations. Navy must step out of Dabolim airport and let it function as civilian base only.  After Goa was annexed in 1961 the civilian airport was commandeered of strategic government establishments. Then taking the temporary emergency legislation – Defense of India Act 1962 – as a cover up it came under navy occupation. Since then the scope of Section 29 (1) of the Defense of India Act 1962 was limited to requisitioning of immovable property on a temporary basis the Naval authorities reportedly altered the intended purpose of requisition to that of permanent nature. The owners of the land and the State Government have definitely not agreed to this fact although it is not clear while subsequent Governments have not requisitioned and challenged this.

Why can’t Navy just more out when Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar  is from Goa?  When he was Chief Minister of Goa had said on 16th May 2012 in a leading National daily “I have raised the issue of disputed land with the Prime Minister and he has agreed to take it up with the Navy. Now Navy has to agree to transfer the land. Once the letter goes we will follow up daily.” Manohar Parrikar now is supporting the land grab in Pernem by not getting Navy to shift their base to another location and getting Dabolim Airport as an entirely civilian airport. Currently 5 days a week the airport is shut for civilian activities from 8.30 am to 13.00 hours due to military flight training during the that time. Charters prefer using the airport during weekends when there is a freer schedule. This gap of 4 and half hours can be utilized by civilian aircrafts if the Navy moves out as requested. Currently Navy has turned into real headache.  It is unethical for Navy to ignore citizens plea and continue to occupy Dabolim airport the way it is done currently. Because of its adamant attitude another land Grab is looming large for brand new airport. New airport constructions from scratch are known as Green field airports while improvising on existing airports is known as brown field airports.  EIA provides no distinctions between the two.  In fact it is not even mentioned.  Brownfield airport up gradation of Dabolim is advisable along with shifting out of Navy. No new Greenfield airport at Mopa is needed.  It is only a huge attraction to legitimize the land grab by creating public consensus for new airport at Mopa, Pernem.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this thorough and informative post about the scandalously inadequate EIA for the proposed Mopa airport. I have been following this development from England. All over the world people are opposing land grabs for airports. So often the sites are larger than required for an airport, with vast tracts of land earmarked for commercial development and real estate speculation. On this website there is a list of just some of the local groups around the world fighting to save communities, farmland and wildlife habitats from destruction for aviation expansion